EU countries struggle to agree on approach to climate talks COP26

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union countries are struggling to agree on their negotiating position at the 26th Climate Change Conference as disagreements emerge over the timetable for commitments to cut emissions, officials and documents seen by Reuters said.

The EU is formulating its position ahead of the COP26 talks in November, when countries will try to finalize technical rules for implementing the Paris Agreement.

One of the issues they will try to resolve is whether countries’ climate goals under the 2015 agreement should follow a “common timetable”.

In an early sign of the upcoming clashes at COP26, where nearly 200 countries will negotiate the issue, the 27 EU member states are divided over whether the goals should span a five- or ten-year period.

The European Union’s emissions cut targets are among the world’s most ambitious major economies, and the union is trying to encourage other regions to set tougher targets.

But all 27 member states must agree to the EU’s negotiating position on COP26, and some diplomats fear the bloc will fail to present a united front.

“What signal is the European Union sending to the world if we can’t even align common timetables with the Paris Agreement?” said a European diplomat from a country that supports a five-year term.

ambitious goals

A country’s climate pledge is known as the Nationally Determined Contribution or the Nationally Determined Contribution.

A majority of EU countries, including Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Luxembourg and France, support a five-year deadline for those pledges, according to EU officials familiar with the talks.

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They say the shorter five-year cycle will put more pressure on countries to set ambitious targets and help them see if they are cutting emissions fast enough to avoid catastrophic climate change.

They also worry that the 10-year pledges may keep countries with weaker climate targets under the radar for a decade.

EU officials said other EU countries, including Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, want to give countries a choice between five or ten years.

“The content of the NDCs and the willingness of the parties to implement them demonstrate ambition rather than duplication of NDCs,” said a diplomat from one of the countries that favored the five or ten-year option.

An EU document outlining its position on the COP26 negotiations, seen by Reuters, said the bloc should favor a five-year term. Officials from European Union countries are discussing the matter on Friday.

The document states that in international negotiations, the United States, African countries and small island states support five-year climate commitments, while China and India oppose a single timetable.

The promise of the Paris Agreement every five years will not necessarily change the EU’s legally binding targets for reducing emissions by 2030 and 2050. Brussels will also set an emissions reduction target for 2040.

For example, the European Union could submit a 2035 climate pledge to the United Nations that would be “our best estimate” of where emissions should be that year, to stay on track to meet its 2040 target, according to the union document. European. (Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Susanna Tudel and Alex Richardson)

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