EEB provides input to the EU Environment Council Meeting, Brussels 13 October 2017

Brussels, Belgium - October 12, 2016: The facade of the Bloc A of the Europa Building in Brussels, Belgium, is a patchwork of traditional wood-frame windows from different European countries.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) has provided input to Environment Ministers ahead of the EU Environment Council Meeting in Brussels on 13 October.

The EEB has raised a number of issues and concerns to the ministers including: Effort Sharing Regulation, LULUCF, Council conclusions on the Paris Agreement and preparations for the UNFCCC meetings in Bonn, as well as matters arising from the sixth session of the Meeting of the Parities to the Aarhus Convention.

Here is an outline of the various positions, to see the letter and extended Annexes on each point please click on the link at the end of the post.

1. Effort Sharing Regulation

Negotiations on the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) are taken again to Ministerial level after a summer of unprecedented floods, hurricanes, droughts and wild fires across the globe.  Already today we are experiencing 400 extreme weather events every year, four times as many as in 1970. This now must serve as a wake-up call and lead to a recalibration of the ongoing negotiations in terms of overall levels of ambition and the use of flexibility mechanisms.

The EEB therefore calls upon the Environment Council to:

  • Strengthen the ESR and oppose any weakening, having in mind that in order to set the EU on a path to meet the Paris Agreement goals, a target of at least a 47% reduction in greenhouse gas
    emissions by 2030 for the ESR Sectors is needed;
  • Oppose in particular loopholes, such as inappropriate starting points for setting the target and creation of an ESR Safety Reserve, and close the forestry loophole;
  • Include a review clause which allows for ambition to be raised over time;
  • Set a stronger governance system building on yearly compliance checks, financial penalties in case of non-compliance and a review clause that will ensure a regular increase of ambition for its 2030 targets.


The integrity of the rules for the LULUCF sector are key to delivering effective climate action, avoiding misleading incentives and ensuring the full contribution of our forests and wetlands to tackling climate change. Adopting flawed legislation that allows emissions to be concealed, incentivizes deforestation or drives the reduction in forest sinks can set a bad precedent at the international UNFCCC level and endanger the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The LULUCF rules must set appropriate forest management reference levels, robust and accurate accounting rules and strong environmental safeguards.

The EEB therefore calls upon the Environment Council to:

  • Raise the level of ambition by ensuring that the EU’s carbon sinks are actively increased and avoid this being used to lower ambition in other sectors;
  • Support robust, transparent accounting rules, including a mandatory category for wetlands, and in particular a correct forest management reference level comparing future emissions to historical trends;
  • Include safeguards to ensure that all LULUCF activities have a positive impact, or at least no adverse impact, on nature and biodiversity.

3. Council conclusions on the Paris Agreement and preparations for the UNFCCC meetings in Bonn

The EEB welcomes the opportunity provided by the UNFCCC meeting in Bonn to debate the ways in which parties to the Paris Agreement can now start to align their domestic goals to what is needed to honour their commitments and avoid the catastrophic impacts of a climate that is already changing.

The EEB therefore calls upon the Environment Council to:

  • Respond to the worries of EU citizens and put in place the process to deliver the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement;
  • Give full support for a clear roadmap for the 2018 Facilitative dialogue;
  • Embrace the need for all sectors to deliver and ensure that shipping and aviation do their part;
  • Support a review clause to adjust the EU targets to the scientific findings of the upcoming IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways.

4. Matters arising from the sixth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention

The EU’s reaction to a finding of non-compliance under the Aarhus Convention, as played out last month at the sixth session Meeting of the Parties to the Convention (MoP), has been deeply damaging to the EU’s credibility as a promoter of democracy, accountability and the rule of law. By seeking to end the longstanding practice whereby the Compliance Committee’s findings of non-compliance are routinely endorsed by the MoP, the EU risked weakening the entire compliance mechanism and therefore the implementation of the Convention itself – a scenario that was only avoided due to the solid opposition of all other Parties and stakeholders present. The EU now needs to evaluate the lessons from the Budva meeting and move swiftly to address the problems underlying the finding of non-compliance.

The EEB therefore calls upon the Environment Council to:

  • Insist that the Commission initiates without delay steps to bring the EU back into compliance with the Convention, including by preparing a legislative proposal to revise the Aarhus Regulation.