Mon. Jan 30th, 2023

Luxembourg, 24 October 2022

The Czech Republic already knows what position it will take as the Presidency country to negotiate on behalf of the entire European Union at major global summits on environmental protection. At the EU Council meeting in Luxembourg, EU environment ministers approved three negotiating mandates, namely for the UN climate change conference in Sharm el-Sheikh in November, for the postponed UN conference on biodiversity in Montreal in December and for the negotiation of a new global agreement on plastic pollution in Uruguay. In addition, ministers discussed the revision of the industrial emissions directive or the new regulation on the ecodesign of sustainable products.

The meeting in Luxembourg was chaired by the Minister of the Environment Anna Hubáčková as the country holding the Presidency of the EU Council. It was her last international appearance before her resignation at the end of October for health reasons. Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans thanked her for successful and enjoyable cooperation at the start of the preparatory briefing. He also praised the work of the Czech Presidency in advancing the Fit for 55 package, stressing that, thanks to good negotiations, some parts of the package will hopefully be approved before COP 27.

“We are currently making good progress in the trials and we hope that we will be able to approve important parts of the package before COP 27. We are doing our best to pass as many regulations as possible and preferably the whole package by the end of the year, if the European Parliament is also ready to compromise and prioritise its demands,” said Anna Hubáčková, Minister of the Environment of the Czech Republic.

EU Mandate for the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The EU will negotiate in Egypt in line with the conclusions endorsed today by the Environment Council. These reflect the objectives of the Green Deal for Europe, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and to achieve EU climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest. The Fit for 55 package is intended to inspire other countries to set their national climate commitments (NDCs) to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change as required by the Paris Agreement.

“Negotiating the mandate was quite complex, with countries sometimes having conflicting views, in particular on how to link the current negotiations on the Fit for 55 package and the common European contribution to meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement. I would like to thank not only the excellent team of our Presidency, but also the Commission and the Member States that we managed to find a good compromise,” said Anna Hubáčková, Minister for the Environment.

The phasing out of coal was also addressed, including in the context of the impact of the war in Ukraine. The ministers agreed that despite the current difficult political, energy and economic situation, we cannot move away from the climate protection path set out in Glasgow and the transition away from fossil fuels must continue.

“We must continue the work we have done. In two weeks’ time in Egypt, we need to send a clear signal – to collectively keep global warming below 1.5 degrees, we need to step up our efforts to reduce emissions, especially at the global level. The EU can lead the way, but we also need the world’s economies to get on board,” said Jan Dusik, Deputy Minister for Climate Protection of the Czech Republic.

EU mandate for the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity

The UN Conference on Biological Diversity has been postponed several times due to the Covid pandemic. It will finally take place this year from 7 to 19 December in Montreal. This is a crucial international meeting in environmental protection, as Parties are expected to adopt a new global framework with targets for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity by 2030. The proposed targets are, for example, to protect at least 30% of land and marine areas, restore at least 20% of degraded ecosystems, reduce the introduction of alien species, reduce pollution, including the elimination of plastic waste, but also to ensure reliable monitoring of the state of biodiversity and sufficient financial resources.

The EU Council endorsed a mandate to adopt an ambitious, comprehensive and transformative global framework for biodiversity to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.

“While the world is united on climate change, there is a lack of common global action to protect declining species and ecosystems. I am pleased that we agreed that the EU should play a leadership role at the conference and present a high level of ambition to halt and reverse the global biodiversity crisis and bring about transformative change,” said Minister Hubáčková.

European ministers also agreed that the new global framework must be balanced and reflect all three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity – the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

EU Mandate to negotiate a new international agreement on plastic pollution

The third major international item on the agenda was the approval of an EU mandate, this time for the negotiation of a global agreement on plastics. The mandate was approved in a short time, a success for the Czech Presidency in cooperation with Sweden, which will take over the negotiations next year.

The agreement is intended to be a new internationally binding regulation that will lead to an end to plastic pollution on land and at sea. It is intended to create global rules for those areas of pollution not yet addressed by current agreements, particularly at the design and production stages of the plastics life cycle. States will recognise that plastic pollution poses a major risk to our planet, with impacts on ecosystems, biodiversity, climate and human health. The first negotiation of this agreement will take place at the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) on Plastic Pollution meeting in Uruguay from 28 November to 2 December.

Revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED)

The Industrial Emissions Directive is the main European instrument for regulating industrial pollution. Although existing rules have already brought significant improvements, the problem of excessive industrial pollution persists. The revision of the Directive therefore has as its main objective to further strengthen pollution prevention.

The new rules also envisage the inclusion of new installations, in particular large livestock farms, intensive mining of industrial minerals and metals or large-scale battery production. The draft directive also encourages increased investment in new, cleaner technologies with regard to energy consumption, resource efficiency and water reuse. The legislation is currently under intensive discussion by the EU Council and the European Parliament, and the final draft could be adopted during 2023.

The proposal for a new Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation

With this regulation, the EU wants to create rules to introduce requirements for more environmentally sustainable products. The proposal builds on the existing Ecodesign Directive, but only covers certain electrical appliances. The new proposal expands the range of products and requirements to make products more durable, reusable, repairable, recyclable and energy and resource efficient. In addition, the information requirements will make consumers aware of the environmental impact of their purchases.

For regulated products, it is proposed that they will have their own digital passport that will allow them to be tracked across the supply chain. The proposal also includes steps to ban the disposal of unsold goods and to extend green public procurement and incentives for sustainable products. Exactly which products will be affected by the regulation will be the subject of further negotiations. In the Czech Republic, the regulation falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Source – Czech EU Presidency: Find out more information

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