IUCN welcomes results of the recent Environment Council of EU Ministers meeting which took place in Luxembourg, 17 October 2016. The EU Slovak Presidency informed the Ministers about the outcomes of the recent IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016. This follows last week’s EU Nature Directors meeting, which concluded to work with IUCN to translate the results from the IUCN Congress into European action.
EU Ministers highlighted the need to mainstream biodiversity and water policies into relevant sectoral policies, such as agriculture, fisheries or energy, and voiced their support for ongoing efforts to combat marine litter and micro-plastics. The importance of Nature-based Solutions for climate adaptation and mitigation – a core component of IUCN’s work was also brought to the forefront.
A key agenda item for the Council meeting was the EC proposal for an effort-sharing regulation (ESR) and a regulation on land-use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF regulation). Flexibility was one of the topics under discussion; IUCN has previously expressed concerns about elements of the Commission’s proposal, more importantly an excessive flexibility to offset fossil fuel emissions domestically and about which rules to include. The LULUCF sector is different from the other sectors in that, besides including activities that result in CO2 emitted, it also contributes to the removal of emissions. These removals, however, are not permanent in nature, take a long time to be realised, with the human impact on them difficult to assess. The data on emissions and removals resulting from forest management is highly uncertain and different accounting methods have led to production of excessive credits from carbon sinks.
“We see some positive developments from this Council meeting but clearly more ambition will be needed to reach the 2020 EU-biodiversity targets and we are also concerned to see an increased ask for LULUCF flexibility in the effort-sharing regulation,” said Luc Bas, Director, IUCN European Regional Office.
See full account of the Council meeting here.
Note: The Environment Council is made up of ministers responsible for matters specifically related to the environment. The European Commission is represented in meetings by both the Commissioner for the Environment and the Commissioner for Climate Action. There are about four Environment Council meetings a year.