10 july 2018

Ex-IPCC Vice-Chair: EU contribution to Paris goals is ‘unambitious and outdated’

By Frédéric Simon |, July 10, 2018

The European Union needs to “significantly improve its policy package” for 2030 in order to align itself with the emission trajectories of the Paris Agreement, according to renowned Belgian climate scientist Jean-Pascal van Ypersele.

Jean-Pascal van Ypersele is Professor of climate and environmental sciences at Université catholique de Louvain. He is former Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

He spoke to EURACTIV’s energy and environment editor, Frédéric Simon.


* EU’s updated 2050 low-carbon economy strategy needs to be consistent with Paris goals
* This means “a very significant strengthening” of the EU’s 2030 targets
* Reaching net-zero emissions in just thirty years requires “a turnaround” in policies
* “Big uncertainty” remains over the size of warming associated with a doubling of CO2
* Ice sheets sensitivity to warming is still “somewhat uncertain”, could have “huge consequences in terms of sea level”
* “Jury still out” on whether Sahel region will see more humid or drier climate
* Belgium’s dry summer of 2018 “illustrates weather conditions we may see more and more”
* “There is still a chance” of avoiding to cross the 1.5°C warming line
*( Meeting the 2°C or 1.5°C target requires “paradigm shift” in both cases
* “The deadline in a sense is behind us already”


The European Commission is launching a public consultation on 10 July to update its low-carbon economy roadmap for 2050. How should the EU approach this? What are the key objectives that it should aim for?

Consistency and ambition are the two keywords here.

The EU has ratified the Paris Agreement, which has very ambitious objectives in terms of keeping the rise of global temperatures “well below 2°C” as a minimum and “aiming for 1.5°C”.

And that means a very significant strengthening of the EU 2030 target of reducing emissions, which forms part of the so-called nationally determined contribution, or the EU effort under the Paris Agreement.

What the EU deposited in the UN framework was prepared in 2014, before the Paris Agreement. This means that the EU contribution is largely based on policies which are outdated. Hence, the EU needs to significantly improve its policy package so that its ambition level is brought in line with the temperature objectives and the emission trajectories of the Paris Agreement.

It will also help restore the EU climate leadership position that it had in the past but that it is busy losing to China.


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