Themed data sheets

Title

Council of Environment Ministers on 6 October 2021

Description

CORE meeting with REPER environment councillors Miguel Castroviejo and Sergio Álvarez on the results of the Council of Ministers

Categories

Renewable energies and resources

General information

COP 26 Climate Summit

The Council discussed preparations for the 26th conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26), to be held from 31 October to 12 November in Glasgow, Scotland. It also adopted Conclusions setting out the EU's common position for the conference and calling on parties to update their respective Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) within a new common timeframe of 5 years - instead of 10 as previously set - as indicated in the European Climate Law. However, although the summit will take into account the position of the EU as a unitary block, it is expected that there will be divergences between the Member States on the timeframe and the level of ambition and commitment to be made. Therefore, and in view of the fact that the Council Conclusions can only be adopted by unanimity, all these aspects have been reflected in the text of the Conclusions in an ambiguous way: "(the EU) expresses, with a view to reaching consensus in Glasgow, its preference for a common timeframe of five years for the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of all Parties to be applied from 2031 only if they are required to do so [...]".

Target 55" package  

In this debate, the Spanish delegation expressed its concerns regarding the concrete proposals, within this package, to be approved by the Environment Council. Among the issues referred to, the following stand out:

Reform of the Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS): if in order to achieve greater emission reductions, the current scope of the ETS is extended or expanded to the road transport or building sectors, the repercussions for Spain in terms of fuel prices at the national level could be notorious and probably lead to greater energy poverty in low-income households.
Creation of a Social Climate Fund: This initiative, proposed by the Commission last July to address the above-mentioned impacts, raises a large number of issues. 

raises a number of difficult issues, including the need to amend the EU's Multiannual Financial Framework for 21-27 by requiring significant own resources from the richest Member States. It is therefore not surprising that, while some Eastern European countries insist on the need to create such a fund, other countries in the North are not prepared to do so.
Effort Sharing Regulation: with regard to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in sectors not covered by the ETS, Spain, in particular, has been required to meet very high reduction targets which, however, do not seem impossible as they are still below the national target.
LULUCF Regulation: In Spain, the targets imposed by this Regulation for GHG emissions and removals during land-use seem practically impossible to achieve due to the special climatic conditions of aridity, heat, dryness of the terrain, lack of forests and rainy environments, etc. in some parts of its territory.
New EU Forestry Strategy

The New EU Forest Strategy 2030 is one of the flagship initiatives of the European Green Pact and builds on the Biodiversity Strategy 2030. Here, the discussion focused mainly on whether or not this strategy is a good basis for the EU to take global leadership on the environment and biodiversity. Certain issues were also raised, such as that the subsidiarity principle is not sufficiently respected in the area of sustainable forest management and that the Commission wants to override the national competencies of Member States indirectly through the implementation of a harmonised forest certification system. In this case, Spain argued that, although the management and care of forests is a national competence, coordination and harmonisation of European measures and strategies is necessary. The Minister of Development and Environment of Castilla y León spoke here on behalf of the Autonomous Communities. On the other hand, the countries with forests advocate exclusively national control of forests, as they consider them to be their own resource that should be managed internally. For this reason, these countries are very much against legislative initiatives for the shared protection of these natural spaces.

Other issues

Price of CO2 emission allowances: for Spain, it is vital to have a secure price control mechanism to avoid a massive increase in the price of CO2 and its consequent impact on the viability of certain strategic industries.
Energy prices: the price adjustment mechanism reflected in the Directive on common rules for the internal electricity market restricts the ability of Member States to intervene in energy prices. Spain advocates greater flexibility for the Member States in the application of this directive, in respect of which the Commission has just presented a Communication on a package of action and support measures to tackle rising energy prices. There are some states that do not want to intervene in the energy market, while other countries, usually in the East, are very willing to do so.

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