Paris Agree­ment to en­ter into force on 4 Novem­ber

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Mark Ab­dilla Meusac ex­ec­u­tive

On 17 Oc­to­ber, min­is­ters re­spon­si­ble for the en­vi­ron­ment fo­cused on the pro­posal re­lat­ing to the var­i­ous sec­tors which are not gov­erned by the Emis­sion Trad­ing Sys­tem (ETS). Th­ese sec­tors in­clude trans­port, con­struc­tion and waste.

The EU’s ETS is an im­por­tant fac­tor in the EU’s pol­icy to com­bat cli­mate change and is con­sid­ered a key tool to help re­duce green­house gas emis­sions in a cost-ef­fec­tive man­ner. Ac­cord­ing to the ETS hand­book, this sys­tem has con­trib­uted to the lim­i­ta­tion of emis­sions from over 11,000 heavy en­ergy-us­ing in­stal­la­tions, such as power sta­tions and air­lines.

The ETS lim­its emis­sions through the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the cap and trade prin­ci­ple. Caps are set on the to­tal amount of cer­tain green­house gases which are emit­ted by the in­stal­la­tions cov­ered by the ETS. Com­pa­nies may then trade caps amongst them­selves, in ac­cor­dance with their an­nual emis­sion pro­jec­tions, to en­sure com­pli­ance with the reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing the ETS. The ETS cur­rently cov­ers around 45% of the EU’s to­tal emis­sions. The ETS op­er­ates in all 28 mem­ber states, Iceland, Liecht­en­stein and Nor­way.

The ETS is di­vided into phases, each phase rep­re­sent­ing a time pe­riod in the ETS’s life cy­cle. With phase 1 start­ing in 2005, the ETS is cur­rently in its third phase. The fourth phase is ex­pected to start in 2021. Whilst the ETS is cur­rently ap­pli­ca­ble to the en­ergy and avi­a­tion sec­tors, cur­rent dis­cus­sions are aimed at ex­tend­ing this to in­cor­po­rate the trans­porta­tion, con­struc­tion and waste sec­tors dur­ing the fourth phase.

It also en­vis­aged that the ex­ten­sion of the ETS would con­trib­ute to­wards the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity’s tar­gets in re­la­tion to the Paris Agree­ment. At the Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties to the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC) held in Paris last year (COP21), coun­tries agreed on the long-term goal of keep­ing the in­crease in global av­er­age tem­per­a­ture to be­low 2°C above pre-in­dus­trial lev­els. In ad­di­tion to this, the main ob­jec­tive is to limit the tem­per­a­ture in­crease to 1.5°C, as this is seen as the best way to re­duce the risks and im­pacts of cli­mate change.

The EU has been at the fore­front of the in­ter­na­tional cli­mate change de­bate and was the first ma­jor econ­omy to sub­mit its in­tended con­tri­bu­tions to the Paris Agree­ment. In fact, in March 2015, the EU had pledged to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions by 40% of the emis­sion lev­els of 1990. The aim is to achieve this re­duc­tion by 2030.

Malta rat­i­fied the Paris Agree­ment on 5 Oc­to­ber, 2016, along with the EU it­self and Aus­tria, Ger­many, Hun­gary, Slo­vakia, Por­tu­gal and France. As a re­sult, the Paris Agree­ment can now come into force. In fact, this will oc­cur this com­ing 4 Novem­ber. EU mem­ber states are pledged to work to­wards the EU’s com­mit­ments. Cer­tainly, the ETS will heav­ily con­trib­ute to­wards the po­ten­tial suc­cess of the EU’s ob­jec­tives, and the ex­ten­sion cur­rently be­ing dis­cussed tar­gets var­i­ous sec­tors which fall within the pa­ram­e­ters of the EU’s com­mit­ment. It is an im­por­tant sys­tem which al­lows fair reg­u­la­tion of emis­sions across the tar­geted sec­tors. The EU has also set up the In­no­va­tion and Mod­erni­sa­tion Fund to help the in­dus­try and the power sec­tors meet the in­no­va­tion and in­vest­ment chal­lenges of the tran­si­tion to a low-car­bon econ­omy.

Cli­mate change con­tin­ues to pose a great threat to the world’s fu­ture and the Paris Agree­ment was a much-needed step to fi­nally push the is­sue at the top of the in­ter­na­tional agenda. Within the EU, the ETS will cer­tainly play an im­por­tant role in achiev­ing a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion of emis­sions, how­ever, all mem­ber states must be fully com­mit­ted to achiev­ing this goal to al­low the EU to re­main a leader in the bat­tle against global warm­ing.

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