The COP21 Paris climate deal is already under pressure. The US Supreme Court could tear apart America’s commitments; China is tilting towards a more political economic policy; and as Europe prepares to negotiate new carbon reduction targets, its member states are divided.

Celebrating after Paris might seem like a good idea, but fixing global warming is a lot like dieting – the menu is full of tough choices. We prefer to stick with our old ways, a high octane mix of sweet temptations, and with the price so good today, our low-carbon diet can always wait until tomorrow.

The European Union should focus on enacting rules to meet existing climate targets for 2030 rather than reacting to the COP21 climate negotiations with more ambitions measures, at least that’s what the European Commission thinks.

December’s COP21 Paris deal saw almost 200 countries agreeing to cap global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius, but Europe’s member states remain divided as to how to reach the target.

Germany and France are pushing for tougher rules, while Poland is opposed to deeper cuts of heat-trapping gases. By 2020, they should communicate their mid-century strategies on how to shift to low-carbon economies.

When the negotiations are reopened, it will be in the context of bitter political disputes. The new Polish government looks set to face-off the European Council and Commission, in part because of concerns about the impact on Poland’s coal industry, but also because it offers a strong symbol of a patriotic defence of Poland’s national interest in the face of a centralised Brussels bureaucracy.

The economic leverage Brussels has includes an arsenal of EU funding instruments which can be advanced or withdrawn to bring member states, such as Poland, into line.

Bełchatów Coal Mine in Poland / Flickr / Kamil Porembiński / CC BY-SA 2.0

Poland is opposed to deeper cuts of heat-trapping gases

COP21 agreement

Periodic reviews were outlined in the Paris agreement to ensure the achievement of the goal of keeping climate change well below 2°C and pursuing efforts towards 1.5°C. A special report will be prepared in 2018 and the EU will provide input to the scientific work being carried out internationally for that purpose. By 2020, all countries should communicate their mid-century, long-term decarbonisation strategies.

In October 2014 the European Council agreed on the 2030 climate and energy policy framework for the EU, setting an ambitious economy-wide domestic target of at least 40 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction for 2030.

The Commission proposes that forthcoming legislative proposals should be fast-tracked by the European Parliament and the Council.

COP21 at the stand "Génétation Climat" in Le Bourget, France, on December 2, 2015 / ec.europa.eu

Stand “Génétation Climat” at COP21 in December 2015

Next steps

The agreement will open for signatures on April 22 this year in New York, and enter into force when at least 55 parties representing at least 55 percent of global emissions have ratified.

However, nothing will be achieved at a global level unless China does a great deal of the heavy lifting and a re-evaluation of how climate risk assessment is impacting the financial system.

The European Systematic Risk Board report in February 2016 raises the need for asset disclosure and stress testing exposure to risk. This also concerns the rise in the incidence of natural catastrophes related to climate change, raising general insurers’ and reinsurers’ liabilities.

In July 2015 France strengthened mandatory climate disclosure requirements for companies and investors. And in last few days, Swedish and Dutch financial regulators have begun calling for greater stress testing and transparency on climate-related risks for investors

The bottom line is, large regions in countries such as Hungary may not get home insurance. Without home insurance it will be impossible to get mortgage. This has substantial and direct economic and political implications.

  • Author: Maguire Brian, Euranet Plus News Agency
  • Further image credits: (middle 1) Bełchatów Coal Mine in Poland / Flickr / Kamil Porembiński / CC BY-SA 2.0 | (middle 2) COP21 at the stand “Génétation Climat” in Le Bourget, France, on December 2, 2015 / ec.europa.eu

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The world is heating up so fast, we can’t feel it – we’ve air conditioned our survival instincts, lost our moral compass. With the top five oil companies pulling in over 900 billion US dollars in profits from 2001 to 2010, and demand for renewables increasing, the percentage which fossil fuel companies spend on renewables keeps shrinking – by 2011, most of the major corporations were spending less than 1 percent of their overall expenditures on alternative energy. Is Europe leading, or following America on climate action, fossil fuels, renewable energy? Is “the land of the free” a market of delusion when it comes to oil and gas? Is energy, the greatest market failure the world has ever seen?