COP26: The European Union Plan for the climate change

COP26: The European Union Plan for the climate change

Summary: 1. Global warming background – 2. The first step – 3. The European scenario – 4. The European position for COP26 Summit – 5. Conclusion

The climate change phenomenon is haunting both governments and international organizations. People request important resolutions that would tackle the issue and shape the future, thus granting us a possibility to still inhabit the planet. In this global scenario, many governments give much attention to the matter to the point of listing it in the UN Council meetings throughout the years, and the climate change issue will be discussed during the COP26 in Glasgow, UK. In view of the next summit, EU environment ministers gathered at the Environment Council of 6 October 2021.


1. Global warming background

According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report, released on the 9th of August, there is an unprecedented change observed by scientists in the climate, and this is happening worldwide across different regions.

In the European continent, the report predicts an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including marine heatwaves, and warns that a 2°C increase in temperature will have critical effects for nature and people.

These predictions also foresee an increase of costs and investments by EU in order to allow governments to adapt to the new reality. On top of that, the shift of climate in the European continent also impacts food companies, as natural resources could significantly become scarce.

2. The first step

First and foremost, the primal and fundamental step was taken with the Paris Agreement. It was first adopted by 196 parties at COP21 in Paris in 2015. It is the first example of a global agreement to tackle the climate change issue, granting the possibility, for all the parties, to discuss and help each other into reaching their common goals. The treaty works on a 5-year cycle of ambitious climate action carried out by countries. Every time, governments must submit their action plan known as the Nationally Determined Contributions (NCDs).

Moreover, the Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) is what truly represents an interesting new approach. According to this, from 2024 on, all participating countries must send their reports following a clear format. These reports will be about actions taken and progress in climate change mitigation, as well as other measures planned, and even the support they might need from other countries.

Even though it was something completely new and challenging, the Paris Agreement already achieved some results: countries are getting much more involved to the extent of seriously working on campaigns and strategies to reach carbon neutrality targets. It also means that the power and transport sectors are giving new business opportunities, thus casting light on new job places and competitive economic sectors.

3. The European scenario

The European Union followed the Paris Agreement goals by working on a new plan that would precisely focus on the European countries. On the 11th of December 2019, the European Green Deal was presented.

The European Green Deal is “a roadmap for making the EU’s economy sustainable by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities across all policy areas and making transition just and inclusive for all” (European Commission, 2019). The main goal is to reach climate neutrality by 2050, thus playing a leading role in the global fight against climate change.

There is an interesting type of communication between the European Union, via its institutions, and the Member States. By agreeing on the European Green Deal, the Member States agreed to collaborate with the European Union in reviewing their existing legislation on greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency, and they also agreed to collaborate in elaborating legislative proposals that would be reviewed by the Council and the European Parliament, thus playing the role of co-legislators.

Following this path, the European climate law, proposed in March 2020 and published in the Official Journal in July 2021, sets the EU’s 2050 climate-neutrality objective into legislation. It is the lighthouse for every Member State to look at, and it is the main practical instrument to not only establish a new net emission reduction target for 2030 of at least 55%, but also to bind the Member States and the EU Institutions to take the necessary measures in order to reach their goal.

From a legal point of view, the Climate Law includes, among others, an important rule, according to which the Commission has the right amount of authority to issue recommendations to those Member States that operate in an inconsistent way with the climate-neutrality objective, and these same Member States “will be obliged to take due account of these recommendations or to explain their reasoning if they fail to do so” (Regulation “Climate Law”, 2021).

4. The European position for COP26 Summit

As mentioned before, the EU Environment Ministers gathered at the Environment Council of 6 October 2021, so that they could discuss the European position for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, UK.

The Council shed light on different discussing points that led to a few fundamental conclusions.

First, the EU and its Member States are recognized as the world’s leading contributors of climate finance, meaning that they put much effort and resources into developing new measures and plans to face the global threat. However, they also informally invite other leading countries to increase their efforts and their contributions to jointly reach the goal of emissions reduction by 2030 and 2050.

Second, the EU’s position in regards of international carbon markets is set so that global partners can trade their emission reductions. In addition to that, Member States share their plans and their time frames for emission reduction commitments, which are all reviewable in the NDCs. By this position, the European Union wishes to gather more collaboration from other parties in setting a common time frame of five years, although it would come into force only if all parties will be required to do so.

5. Conclusion

The climate change matter is a serious threat for our generations and those coming later. Every country should make every possible effort to change their directions and grant a future to their populations.

Every human being has the proper means to make their voice heard.

The article 25.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, housing and medical care”.

In addition to that, through the Resolution 64/292, 2010, the United Nations General Assembly “explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights”. By saying so, the Resolution directly requires States and International Organizations to spend resources in research and engineering, so that there would be a general improvement and a better collaboration among countries.

Salvis Juribus – Rivista di informazione giuridica
Direttore responsabile Avv. Giacomo Romano
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Alessandro Peluso

Doctor in Law, specialized in International Law, European Law and Information and Communication Law. Attending the Master of Arts in International Public Affairs at LUISS University.

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