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EU countries approach to COP26 climate talks

BRUSSELS

European Union countries are struggling to agree on their negotiating position for the COP26 global climate change conference, with rifts emerging over time frames for emissions-cutting pledges, officials, and documents according to Reuters.

The EU is drafting its position before the November COP26 talks, where countries will attempt to finish the technical rules to put the Paris Agreement into effect.

One issue they’re going to try to settle is whether countries’ climate targets under the 2015 accord should follow a “common time frame”.

In an early sign of the clashes to come at COP26, where nearly 200 countries will negotiate the problem, the EU’s 27 member states are divided over whether targets should cover five- or 10-year periods.

The EU’s own emissions-cutting targets are among the most ambitious of the world’s major economies, and therefore the bloc is seeking to spur other regions to set tougher goals.

But all 27 member states must approve the EU’s COP26 negotiating position, and some diplomats are concerned that the bloc will fail to present a united front.

“What signal is that the EU giving the globe if we will not even get the common timeframes in line with the Paris Agreement?” said an EU diplomat from a country backing a five-year time-frame.

Ambitious targets

A country’s climate pledge is thought of as its nationally determined contribution or NDC.

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

They say the shorter five-year cycle would put more pressure on countries to line ambitious targets, and help keep track of whether or not they are cutting emissions fast enough to avert catastrophic global climate change.

They also worry that 10-year pledges could let countries with weaker climate goals fly under the radar for an entire decade.

Other EU states, including Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania, want to allow countries a choice of either five or 10 years, EU officials said.

“The content of the NDCs and therefore the will of the parties to implement them proves ambition, and not the frequency of NDCs,” said a diplomat from one country supporting the five or 10-year choice.

An EU document proposing its position for the COP26 negotiations, seen by Reuters, said the bloc should favor a five-year time frame. Officials from EU countries will discuss the issue on Friday (Sept 24).

In the international negotiations, the united states, African countries, and little island states support five-year climate pledges, while China and India are against a one-time frame, the document said.

Setting a Paris Agreement pledge every five years wouldn’t necessarily change the EU’s legally binding targets to cut emissions by 2030 and 2050. Brussels also will set a 2040 emissions-cutting target.

For example, the EU could submit a 2035 climate pledge to the UN that might be “our best estimate” of where its emissions need to be that year, to stay on the right track for its 2040 goal, the EU document said.

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