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Minister Jure Leben at the meeting of the Eu Environment Council: It is difficult to ignore the necessity of taking decisive action in the fight against climate change

Luxembourg, 9 October 2018 – Mr Jure Leben, Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning, attended the meeting of the EU Environment Council in Luxembourg today. The deliberations focused on reaching an agreement on the proposal for a regulation setting emissions standards for new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles to define CO2 emissions-reduction targets for cars and vans in the EU. At the meeting, Minister Leben adopted the clear position that a more ambitious approach to the reduction of transport emissions is required.

The fact that our planet is too rapidly running out of time for any further delay to be countenanced was also revealed yesterday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report, which was unanimously emphasised by the EU’s environment ministers. Recent research suggests that the harmful and dangerous consequences of global warming may only be prevented by adopting immediate and effective measures at all levels of political decision-making. Minister Leben stressed that "today we are all aware what the environmental, economic and social price will be in the event that we do not act immediately and do not commit to the implementation of long-term measures towards the sustainable development of society and the economy". In the light of searching for a compromise and best solution in global environmental policy, he suggested that the agreement reached today should set at least a 40% reduction target for CO2 emissions of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles by 2030, saying that "our planet has run out of time for any further unnecessary delay".

With his position, Minister Leben backed the letter written jointly by the Netherlands, Denmark, Luxembourg, Ireland and Greece highlighting the urgent need to set ambitious CO2 emissions standards as an important lever for maintaining the competitive edge of the European automotive industry in the future. He emphasised that while we are all aware that the ambitious targets set for the automotive industry are a challenge that needs to be addressed appropriately, given the state of global warming, it is necessary to turn promises into action by insisting that the transport sector also contributes to the overall reduction of emissions. "Slovenia will advocate a greater emphasis on the phasing in of electric cars, as I am convinced that the EU has both the knowledge and the technology needed to bravely take the path of such industrial progress as will also pay due attention to our concern for the environment," said the Minister.

At the meeting of the EU Council, the ministers also discussed the proposal for a regulation setting CO2 emissions standards for new heavy goods vehicles, which is part of the Third Mobility Package and proposes a 15% CO2 emissions reduction by 2025 compared to the emissions limits valid in 2019 as a binding target and up to 30% of CO2 emissions reduction by 2030 compared to the emission limits valid in 2019 as an indicative target. The purpose of the proposal is to draw attention to the urgent need for investment and innovation in the electrification of heavy goods vehicles. "Slovenia’s desire is for more ambitious targets to be set in this proposal, particularly in terms of contribution to improving air quality and attaining the aims of the Paris Agreement, provided that these targets are still realistically achievable for the heavy goods vehicle sector," said Minister Leben.
The Ministers furthermore adopted the double conclusions of the Council, which represent the EU’s position for negotiations at the Conferences of the Parties to the Convention on Climate Change to be held from 2 to 14 December 2018 in Katowice, Poland, and at the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to be held from 17 to 29 November 2018 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.

In the discussion on the Council’s conclusions for the conference on climate change, approved unanimously in the afternoon, the IPPC Report was much referred to by environment ministers in their appeal for a review of the EU’s commitments adopted to date and the possibilities for their strengthening even before the meeting this year in Katowice. The ministers welcomed the recent adoption of legislation on the targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency aimed at further strengthening of the EU emissions-reduction targets, thereby also opening a debate on stepping up the ambitions for the attainment of the aims of the EU’s Paris Agreement aims.

The negotiations, which began with the first morning round of exchanging positions among Member States regarding the reduction of CO2 emissions for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, continued into the late evening. The negotiations were held throughout the day and the meeting resulted in the adoption of a compromise proposal by the Presidency, which includes a 35% emissions-reduction target by 2030. Slovenia, together with many other Member States, opposed the proposal to the very last and demanded at least a 40% emissions-reduction target, but the Austrian Presidency managed to get the majority required to confirm the general approach. In his closing speech, Minister Leben stressed that he opposes the proposal, as it does not lead in the direction set by the EU, that is to the transition to a low-carbon society by reducing the emissions of all sectors, including transport. As pointed out by the Minister, an important aspect of the EU’s ambition is precisely the target that has been the subject of the negotiations today. "Unfortunately, very little has remained of political appeals to follow the recommendations of the IPCC; today we have had the opportunity to demonstrate our serious intent, but unfortunately this opportunity was lost," Minister Leben added.


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