The Council of Environment Ministers of the European Union has approved the EU’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (“INDC”) in anticipation of the COP 21 of the UNFCCC in Paris in December 2015.  At COP 21, the UNFCCC contracting parties are expected to agree on a new international legal agreement on climate change to be implemented by 2020 that will apply to all countries and have the objective of limiting global warning below 2°C.

In line with the European Commission’s proposal, the approved INDC commits the EU and its Member States to a binding target of an at least 40% domestic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990.  The commitment represents a binding, economy-wide reduction target that covers all sectors and sources of emissions in the EU.

The EU’s INDC explicitly excludes from its 40% reduction commitment any contribution from international credits, which is also in line with the Commission’s intention to exclude all international credits from the EU Emissions Trading System (“ETS”).  This in effect also means that any linkage between the EU ETS and the systems of third countries would require the EU to increase its emissions reduction above 40%.

However, due to Member States’ divergent views on how to include Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (“LULUCF”) in the 40% reduction binding target, the EU’s INDC merely states that a “[p]olicy on how to include [LULUCF] into the 2030 greenhouse mitigation framework will be established as soon as technical conditions allow and in any case before 2020.”  This ambiguity has been criticized by different environmental NGOs who claim that the inclusion of LULUCF offsets would lower the 40% commitment by up to 5%.

The EU’s INDC is also silent on adaptation measures and on finance for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.