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Environment ministers discuss Fit for 55 package in Slovenia

Slovenia – holding the presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2021 – hosted an informal meeting of environment and climate change ministers to discuss the recently published legislative package Fit for 55, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55 per cent by 2030. The COP26 International Climate Change Conference taking place in Glasgow in November was also on the table.

The informal meeting was chaired by the Slovenian Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning, Andrej Vizjak.

“We are discussing individual proposals as well as the package as a whole,” said the Minister pointing out that the goal is to reach a balanced agreement that will lead to the achievement of the agreed climate goals while dividing the burden fairly and cost-effectively.

He emphasised that all economic sectors must contribute to the achievement of the climate goals, while we must maintain our competitiveness and take care of those who will need help because of the green transition.

The ministers welcomed the preparation of the European Commission’s package stressing that it provided a good basis for further coordination and pointing out that fairness, solidarity, ambition and efficiency among the EU Member States should be the guiding principles.

European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans said in a statement ahead of the meeting that in the transition we must not leave anyone out, especially the socially disadvantaged, thus solidarity and fairness were of great importance. He added that the package is balanced and ambitious but at the same time realistic.

The new Fit for 55 package is a game-changing proposal, that will shape the climate ambitions of every EU Member States. Several associations and institutions from the region are welcoming the package as they are all already actively contributing to the growth of zero- and low-emission economies. At the same time, many concerns were raised regarding a lack of ambitions and fundings which could put the region at risk of being led behind.

The package will be one of the top priorities of the Slovenian Presidency holding the presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2021. Achieving the emission reduction targets set out in the package is crucial to Europe becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and making the European Green Deal a reality.

One of the main elements of the package is the revision of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR). On the Effort Sharing Regulation, member states are coordinating new targets that will allow them to achieve a 55 per cent reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 and climate neutrality by the middle of the century. The carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) will address the challenge of the movement of the industry from the EU to third countries where emissions are not limited.

In addition to the Environment Council, the package will be discussed by ministers at the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council (TTE) and the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN).

The climate negotiations at the COP26 International Climate Change Conference in Glasgow were also on the table in Slovenia. Minister Vizjak said that Slovenia as the presiding country of the Council of the EU will strive for the EU to continue to call for urgent action, keep environmental goals ambitious and assume a leading role in protecting and regenerating the natural world both on the local and global level.

Andrej Vizjak
Source: Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU 2021

In an informal discussion, the ministers highlighted the finalisation of the Paris Agreement rulebook, and thus the ambitious agreement on Article 6 and the agreement on reporting and transparency rules referred to in Article 13 of the Paris Agreement, as important elements for the success of the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. They agreed that mobilising public as well as private finance will also play an important role in reaching an agreement in relation to other important agenda items such as adapting to climate change and addressing loss and damage.

Minister Vizjak added that the months that remain for preparations must be used effectively to ensure progress in Glasgow towards the goals of the Paris Agreement with respect to mitigation, adaptation and funding. The meeting of ministers in London at the end of this week, the session of the UN General Assembly in September, the pre-COP in Milano, the G7 and the G20 to mention but a few are all events leading up to Glasgow.

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