When representatives of 195 nations reached a landmark accord in Paris to slow global warming, Europe erupted with cheers. At Eurometaux, we joined in the celebration, giving our collective (but cautious) congratulations. Finally, the international community has come together to make the tough choices necessary for both the health of our planet and the global economy.
As Chair of the Energy Committee at Eurometaux, I’ve been watching the Paris negotiations carefully. Here’s my take on the results.
The biggest achievement
Unlike previous climate agreements, Paris is different because it requires action in some form from every country, rich or poor. Every five years, governments will also need to report on their progress in achieving their country goals.
This means that countries like China can no longer ignore their responsibilities to cut carbon emissions, which potentially has big repercussions for the metals industry in Europe. We’ve been hurt by aggressive climate policies in Europe while our competitors abroad benefit from the laissez-faire attitude of their governments.
If negotiators are true to their words, we should all be playing on a much more even playing field by 2020 – as long as all countries implement their commitments properly.
It’s going to be hard to bring industry into line outside of Europe, particularly in energy intensive sectors. That’s why European policy makers need to rigorously monitor the implementation of the agreement at every level. Talk is cheap. Now is the time to see action and proof of results.
Keeping Europe competitive
In the short-term, European metals producers are still going to have to compete globally in an uneven regulatory environment. Policy makers need to keep ensuring “no undue costs on best performers until a global playing field is reached”.
This means that for now, companies in our industry that are leading on carbon control and reduction strategies should not bear extra costs from EU climate policies. This policy is absolutely critical for the survival of the metals industry in Europe and to prevent further so-called ‘carbon leakage’.
Onwards into 2016
At Eurometaux we’ve got big plans for 2016 to help policy makers plan, prepare and respond to the new Paris accord. Collectively, we need to strike a balance when implementing EU commitments for global climate protection, in order to keep guaranteeing jobs, growth and investment.
We’ll also continue to innovate, providing low-carbon solutions to mitigate the effects of global warming, and adapt to its devastating consequences.
We’re optimistic about the future, because we all share a common goal to protect our planet and put Europe on the path towards growth and jobs. Onwards!