By Geneviève Pons, Director, WWF European Policy Office
Saving the planet, transforming development, reforming the economy: EU Environment chiefs have a weighty agenda lined up for their meeting in Brussels this Friday.
They will talk about implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda the EU and other world leaders adopted last autumn.
Meeting the Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require full employment, protection of ecosystems, more renewable energy, greater resource efficiency, and food waste to be halved in Europe by 2030, amongst other elements.
The Sustainable Development Agenda needs to be reflected across all EU policy sectors. The EU must set out a framework to show how this will be done. The Agenda should be at the heart of the Circular Economy Package, the review of the Europe 2020 strategy, and the EU’s upcoming 2030 strategy.
Environment ministers will also consider the impact of the 2015 Paris Agreement on EU policy.
The international climate deal commits to keeping global warming well under 2 degrees Centigrade, and aiming to stay under 1.5 degrees. The EU’s 2030 target of 40% emissions reductions by 2030 is not in line with this pledge.
The European Commission in its recent paper turned a blind eye to the gap between the Paris Agreement and the EU targets. But it is clear that if the EU is to stand by its international climate commitments, plans and targets on emissions reductions, energy efficiency, renewable energy and the EU emissions trading system, amongst other areas, will need to be strengthened rapidly.
These international commitments – both on sustainable development and on the climate – can and should impact on everything the EU does, from climate, energy and development policies to those on trade, external relations, finance and the economy.
Environment ministers have a first chance this week to show they appreciate the importance of these pledges and that they are committed to seeing them reflected in EU policy.
On Friday, the 28 ministers must put aside national differences and show unity over the importance of a cleaner, safer, more sustainable future for Europe.