EU countries struggle to agree on approach to COP26 climate negotiations

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By Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS, Sept. 23 (Reuters) – European Union countries are struggling to agree on their negotiating position for the COP26 climate change conference, with differences emerging over deadlines for commitments to reduce emissions. emissions, according to officials and documents viewed by Reuters.

The EU is drafting its position ahead of the COP26 talks in November, where countries will attempt to complete technical rules to implement the Paris Agreement.

One question they will try to address is whether countries’ climate goals under the 2015 accord should follow a “common timetable.”

In a first sign of the upcoming clashes at COP26, where nearly 200 countries will be negotiating the issue, the 27 EU member states are divided over whether the targets should cover periods of five or ten years.

The EU’s own emission reduction targets are among the most ambitious of any major global economy, and the bloc is looking to get other regions to set tighter targets.

But the 27 member states must endorse the EU’s negotiating position at COP26, and some diplomats fear the bloc will succeed in presenting a united front.

“What signal is the EU giving to the world if we fail to even align the common deadlines with the Paris agreement?” said an EU diplomat from a country supporting a five-year deadline.

AMBITIOUS OBJECTIVES

A country’s climate commitment is known as a Nationally Determined Contribution, or NDC.

A majority of EU countries, including Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Luxembourg and France, support a five-year deadline for these pledges, according to EU officials familiar with the talks.

They say the shorter five-year cycle would put more pressure on countries to set lofty targets and help find out if they are cutting emissions fast enough to avoid catastrophic climate change.

They also fear that 10-year pledges will allow countries with lower climate targets to slip under the radar for an entire decade.

Other EU states, including Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, want to give countries the choice between five or ten years, EU officials have said.

“The content of the NDCs and the willingness of the parties to implement them prove the ambition, not the frequency of the NDCs,” said a diplomat from a country supporting the choice of five or ten years.

An EU document proposing its position for the COP26 negotiations, seen by Reuters, said the bloc should favor a five-year deadline. Officials from EU countries will discuss the matter on Friday.

In international negotiations, the United States, African countries and small island states support five-year climate commitments, while China and India are against a single timeline, according to the document.

Establishing a commitment to the Paris Agreement every five years would not necessarily change the EU’s legally binding targets to reduce emissions by 2030 and 2050. Brussels will also set an emissions reduction target. for 2040.

For example, the EU could submit to the UN a 2035 climate pledge that would be “our best guess” of where its emissions need to be that year, to stay on track for its 2040 target, according to the report. EU document. (Reporting by Kate Abnett; editing by Susanna Twidale and Alex Richardson)


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