October 25, 2018 / 12:45 PM / 25 days ago

EU lawmakers push for harder stance in U.N. climate talks

STRASBOURG (Reuters) - European Union lawmakers voted on Thursday to press EU countries and the European Commission to harden their stance on environmental action ahead of United Nations climate talks in Katowice, Poland in December.

Protesters march to urge politicians to act against climate change in Paris, France, October 13, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

The bloc’s environment ministers earlier this month agreed a common position that the EU was ready to “communicate or update” its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), the target reduction of greenhouse gases by each country, by 2020.

EU lawmakers, in a non-binding resolution, called for concrete targets, recommending countries set an NDC of at least 55 percent by 2030 to help limit the Earth’s long-term temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“It is very important because this is the position of the parliament toward Katowice,” said Bas Eickhout, a Green lawmaker who shepherded the resolution through the legislature. “It is a very important signal.”

Raising the NDC would require the approval of all 28 EU nations.

Earlier this month, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned the world would have to make “unprecedented” changes to meet the target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Meeting this target, rather than the two-degree goal agreed at global climate talks in Paris in 2015, would have “clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems”, the IPCC said on the release of its report.

The resolution passed in parliament on Thursday also called on the EU to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The vote came two days after the EU’s auditor reported the bloc’s funding programs for the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) had failed. CCS traps, transports and buries underground carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.

The EU launched two CCS programs in 2009. Only one project was completed, despite 424 million euros ($484 million) in grants.

Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; editing by Andrew Roche

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