‘EU should use opportunities to transform energy system’

The European Union (EU) is facing a window of opportunities given by the world’s major economies who have announced emissions cut targets in accordance with the Paris Agreement, Germany’s Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier said.

“There is now a window of opportunity in our climate policy ambitions; we will be moving towards (US President-elect) Joe Biden,” Xinhua news agency quoted Altmaier as saying at a press conference following a meeting of the EU Energy Ministers on Monday.

In 2017, US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris Agreement which was adopted by 196 parties at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21) and came into force on November 4, 2016. It aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change.

Biden has said several times that the US will re-adopt the agreement after he takes office in January 2021.

There is also a window of opportunity with China, “which we will be fully using”, Altmaier said, referring to Beijing’s announcement in October that it would speed up reduction in emissions and reach carbon neutrality by 2060.

Japan and South Korea have also followed suit, pledging to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, a goal shared by the EU, he said.

The Minister emphasised that the EU should utilise the opportunity to implement the bloc’s new hydrogen strategy, which has been adopted by the EU Council under the German presidency.

“We are about to move into a global hydrogen economy,” said Altmaier, adding that international cooperation will be needed to facilitate a global network of producing and transporting renewable energy.

The EU will use next few months to strengthen its role in global talks, he said.

“We have made one important step forward. We want to achieve success.”

On December 11, EU leaders reached an agreement to cut the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions of at least 55 per cent by the end of 2030 compared with the 1990 level.

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