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Environment ministers at a meeting in Slovenia discuss the “Fit for 55” package and the COP26 International Climate Change Conference

Slovenia hosted an informal meeting of environment and climate change ministers. For the first time, they exchanged views on the vital legislative package "Fit for 55", which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030. In the afternoon, the ministers exchanged views on the COP26 International Climate Change Conference to be held in Glasgow in November.

The informal meeting was chaired by the Slovenian Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning, Andrej Vizjak, who pointed out: “We are discussing individual proposals as well as the package as a whole. Our goal is to reach a balanced agreement that will lead to the achievement of the agreed climate goals while dividing the burden fairly and cost-effectively. This means that all economic sectors contribute to the achievement of the goal. At the same time, we must maintain the competitiveness of our economies and not neglect anyone who will need help because of the green transition.”The ministers welcomed the preparation of the European Commission's package and stressed that it provided a good basis for further coordination. Fairness, solidarity, ambition and efficiency among the EU Member States should be the guiding principles.

European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans said in a statement ahead of the meeting that Europe has the opportunity to change the way society works, which is both challenging and costly, but the cost of inaction is much higher. In this context, the Commissioner stressed that in this transition we must not leave anyone out, especially the socially disadvantaged, thus solidarity and fairness were of great importance. This is a package that is balanced and ambitious but realistic. The EU has committed itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55%.

Highlights of the “Fit for 55” package, which is one of the top priorities of the Slovenian Presidency include: emissions trading – the ETS remains the cornerstone of EU's climate policy. At its core is the principle that participants pay for the pollution they cause, but it also includes market-based incentives to reduce emissions. On the Effort Sharing Regulation, member states are coordinating new targets that will allow them to achieve a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050. Carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) will address the challenge of movement of industry from the EU to third countries where emissions are not limited. In addition to the Environment Council, the package will be discussed by ministers at the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council (TTE) and the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN).

Ministers also discussed climate negotiations at the COP26 International Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, which is a key milestone in the effort to increase global climate ambitions. The presiding minister Vizjak said that Slovenia as the presiding country of the Council of the EU will strive for “the EU to continue to call for urgent action, keep environmental goals ambitious and assume a leading role in protecting and regenerating the natural world both on the local and global level.”

In an informal discussion, the ministers highlighted, among other things, the finalisation of the Paris Agreement rulebook, and thus the ambitious agreement on Article 6, and the agreement on reporting and transparency rules referred to in Article 13 of the Paris Agreement, as important elements for the success of the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. Mobilising public as well as private finance will also play an important role in reaching an agreement in relation to other important agenda items such as adapting to climate change and addressing loss and damage.

Minister Vizjak added that the months that remain for preparations must be used effectively to ensure progress in Glasgow towards the goals of the Paris Agreement with respect to mitigation, adaptation and funding. The meeting of ministers in London at the end of this week, the session of the UN General Assembly in September, the pre-COP in Milano, the G7 and the G20 to mention but a few are all events leading up to Glasgow.

In an effort to make COP26 as successful as possible, Slovenia as the presidency holder will work closely with the COP26 Presidency, the United Kingdom, led by Alok Sharma. As pointed out by Alok Sharma, COP26 is our last chance to effectively pursue the Paris Agreement goals.  One of the key elements for the success of COP26 is to work closely together within the international community to achieve the set goals.

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