Global conservation of biological diversity also on agenda at the Informal Meeting of Environment Ministers in Berlin
The EU environment ministers met for an informal meeting in Berlin on 30 September and 1 October 2020. One key topic of discussion was how to implement an increase of the EU climate target for 2030. Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze chaired the meeting as Germany currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU. The focus of discussions was on the European Commission's comprehensive impact assessment of the social, economic and environmental effects of a more ambitious 2030 climate target.
Federal Environment Minister Schulze commented: "The biggest challenges of our time – climate change, biodiversity loss and the coronavirus crisis – can only be solved by addressing them hand in hand: in cooperation, across borders and in a spirit of solidarity. We in the European Union and many of our partners agree on this. We held in-depth talks on the new EU climate target. A common understanding is developing. We laid important foundations here in Berlin for the upcoming decisions."
The European Commission has proposed a reduction of at least 55 percent in European greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared with 1990. The current target is 40 percent. The goal, which was adopted unanimously by the European Council in 2019, is for the EU to become climate neutral by 2050. With this, Europe is doing its part in implementing the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The new climate target is also an important part of the EU's economic strategy. Investments in climate action should support Europe's economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis.
Minister Schulze noted: "When it comes to climate action, the EU is leading by example. We want to become the first climate-neutral region. With our solutions and strategies, we want to motivate other countries to follow our lead. Together we have the power and the know-how to make our economies climate neutral and to make our joint European project fit for the future."
Another topic discussed at the meeting was global biodiversity loss. On the initiative of the German Council Presidency, the ministers addressed whether the current draft of the new post-2020 global biodiversity framework draws the right conclusions from the current crisis. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) contributed to the discussions with the latest scientific findings about the correlation between biodiversity and pandemics. With this, the ministers built a clear link to the UN Summit on Biodiversity taking place in parallel. On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and around 150 heads of state and government and ministers called for urgent action to conserve biodiversity and emphasised the importance of the international biodiversity conference in 2021.
The informal meeting of ministers is an important part of Germany's Council Presidency, providing the opportunity to discuss politically relevant issues away from day-to-day activities. The ministers of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland and of the EU candidate countries also took part. The chair of the Environment Committee in the European Parliament, the Director of the European Environment Agency and the Secretary General of the European Environmental Bureau (European umbrella organisation for environmental NGOs) also participated.