Preparation Environment Council, 18 June 2013
Brussels -- The final Environment Council under the Irish Presidency will be held in Luxembourg on 18 June. Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik and Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard will represent the European Commission. After the adoption of the 'A' points, Ministers will adopt Conclusions on Adaptation to Climate Change, and the Presidency will present a progress report on Biofuels and Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC). Over lunch Ministers will be joined by Commissioner for Maritime Affaires and Fisheries Maria Damanaki to discuss the challenges ahead for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The Council will then hold an exchange of views and adopt conclusions on the follow-up to the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development held in Brazil last year. A press conference will be held after the Council closes.
Adaptation to Climate Change
Ministers are expected to adopt conclusions endorsing the key elements of the EU strategy on adaptation to climate change presented by the Commission on 16 April this year. This aims to enhance Europe's preparedness and capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change at local, regional, national and EU level, developing a coherent approach and improving coordination. Europe is warming faster than many other parts of the world, with the European land temperature over the past decade on average 1.3°C higher than in the pre-industrial era, compared with a global average rise of 0.8°C. Impacts vary across the EU depending on climate, geographic and socioeconomic conditions but all Member States are exposed to climate change. The consequences of climate change are already being seen in Europe and worldwide, with patterns of precipitation changing, glaciers melting and sea levels rising. The recent floods in Central Europe have caused deaths and massive damage showing the cross-border nature of many of the challenges being faced and highlighting the need to work together.
The draft conclusions recognise the importance of early, planned adaptation to unavoidable climate change effects, in particular in the most vulnerable regions and groups within societies and underline that inaction or delays in taking adequate adaptation action can generate additional costs. They emphasise that EU adaptation policy should facilitate more climate resilient investment and is expected to contribute to a transition to a green economy and the creation of new job opportunities. The draft conclusions also welcome the Commission's public consultation on insurance in the context of natural and man-made disasters, which was launched at the same time as the strategy and is open until 15 July.
On 17 October 2012, the European Commission published a proposal to limit global land conversion for biofuel production, and raise the climate benefits of biofuels used in the EU (see IP/12/1112). Following orientation debates in the Energy and Environment Councils and discussions in the Working Group, the Presidency will present a progress report outlining the main issues raised. The proposed directive would amend existing directives on fuel quality and renewable energy.
The Marine strategy Framework Directive
Over lunch, Ministers will take stock of the state of the marine environment and the many challenges it faces, ranging from pollution by hazardous substances or marine litter to overfishing and climate change. On the fifth anniversary of the Marine Framework Strategy Directive that provides the EU with the tools to protect our seas and oceans and aims to achieve Good Environmental Status by 2020, Ministers will discuss progress made in its implementation, its link to other EU policies and the road ahead. The discussion will also shed light on recent complementary initiatives such as the proposed Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Management (see IP/12/1112) and highlight the role of the Regional Sea Conventions to find common solutions to the trans-boundary issue of marine pollution. Ministers, Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik and Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki will also discuss synergies between the Blue Growth and the Green Growth agenda and reflect on how other policies can contribute to the objectives of the MSFD.
On 27 February this year, the Commission presented a Communication entitled 'A decent life for all: Ending poverty and giving the world a sustainable future' (see IP/13/166) proposing a common approach to the follow-up to Rio+20, and in particular the Sustainable Development Goals, and the review of the Millennium Development Goals.
Ministers are expected to endorse the conclusions (which will be adopted by the General Affairs Council later in the month) which support the approach and the main proposals contained in the Communication to address these challenges, in particular the objective to arrive at an overarching framework for poverty eradication and sustainable development for the period after 2015.
Ministers will also discuss whether the illustrative goals and targets proposed in the Report of the UN Secretary General’s High-level Panel of eminent persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda are well balanced and if other priority areas might be considered. They will reflect on how to integrate the development of Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda ahead of 2015. Ministers will also discuss the proposed approach to implementation, in particular a global forum at a high political level to review progress on implementation, regional peer review processes and a global partnership on development data.
Any Other Business
The Any Other Business points will inform ministers about the state of play in a number of files, including an update from the Commission on the international negotiations to prepare a climate change Resolution for the 2013 International Civil Aviation Organization Assembly, and to address the enforcement of the EU Emissions Trading System regarding intra-EU flights. The Presidency will also provide information on the state of play concerning the proposal for a Regulation on fluorinated greenhouse gases.
The Presidency and the Commission will inform about the outcome of the Triple Conference of the Parties (COP) for the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions and a meeting of the European Platform for Biodiversity Research Strategy (EPBRS). Parties made good progress on a number of points on the Basel Convention, such as the addition of certain hazardous waste substances to the Annex of the Convention, but were unable to adopt guidelines on the trans-boundary movements of e-waste. Some additions were also made to the Annex of the Rotterdam Convention and a budget and work programme was decided, without however reaching agreement on a compliance mechanism. The main contribution of the COP to the Stockholm Convention was to add hexa-bromocyclododecane (HBCD), a flame retardant, to Annex A, meaning that its use must be eliminated.
The Presidency will then report on the progress made on the Environmental Impact Assessments Directive and the state of play of the inter-institutional debates on the Access to Benefit Sharing Regulation. The Netherlands will provide information on the problem of micro-plastics in specific products like cosmetics and personal care products that end up in the environment and Hungary will inform Ministers on the upcoming Budapest Water Summit (8-11 October 2013). Finally, the Lithuanian delegation will present the environment work programme of the Lithuanian Presidency.