EU countries to ask top diplomat to increase climate action

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BRUSSELS, Feb 21 (Reuters) – European Union foreign ministers will call on the bloc’s top diplomat to scale up efforts on climate change this year to help clinch tougher emissions-cutting goals from individual countries, a draft document due to be adopted on Monday said.

Nearly 200 countries agreed at last year’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, to set tougher emissions reduction targets in time for the next U.N. climate conference this November.

The aim is to bridge the gap between countries’ pledges and the far faster emissions cuts needed this decade to stop the world heating beyond 2C or 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, which scientists say would unleash disastrous climate consequences.

Foreign ministers from EU countries will on Monday urge the bloc’s most senior diplomat, high representative for foreign affairs Josep Borrell, to scale up climate diplomacy, according to a draft of their meeting conclusions.

“The council invites the high representative, in close cooperation with the Commission and EU member states, to continue and scale up an active climate diplomacy and cooperation with partners in the run-up to the COP27, to set more ambitious targets,” according to the draft, which could change before it is published.

The EU struck climate deals last year including an $8.5 billion agreement with the United States and other countries to help South Africa phase out coal faster – a deal seen as a possible blueprint for climate funding in other countries.

The draft said the EU should explore other partnerships before COP27 with countries heavily reliant on coal power generation or mining.

EU countries and the European Parliament will this year negotiate a raft of new policies to cut EU emissions more quickly, some of which will have international ripples – including the world’s first carbon border tariff, imposing emissions costs on polluting goods imported into the EU.

That has unnerved countries, including Russia and China, although Brussels has said countries with their own carbon pricing policies could dodge the border levy.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by John Chalmers and David Holmes)

PHOTO – European Union flags fly near the seat of the European Commission at the Berlaymont building in Brussels, Belgium. EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND

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