Serge Wilmes attended the EU Environment Council in Brussels

On Monday 25 March 2024, the Minister of the Environment, Climate and Biodiversity, Serge Wilmes, took part in the meeting of the Environment Council of the European Union (EU), held in Brussels.

The Environment Council meeting began with an exchange of views on the Commission's communication on the European Union's climate objective for 2040 and on climate risk management.

The EU's climate target for 2040

On the basis of the objective of a net reduction in emissions of at least 55% by 2030 (compared with 1990), set by the "European Climate Act", and with a view to achieving climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest, also set out in the "European Climate Act", the Commission recommends a net reduction in the EU's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 90% by 2040 compared with 1990 levels.

According to the Commission, all the main greenhouse gas emitting sectors will have to contribute to the reduction efforts. In particular, fossil fuel consumption should fall by around 80% by 2040 compared with 2021.

In addition to the many co-benefits of climate action, the ministers stressed the need for a predictable framework for action for both businesses and citizens. While expressing his support for the 90% reduction target proposed by the Commission, Minister Serge Wilmes stressed that the climate transition can only succeed if the competitiveness of European industry is guaranteed: "We need a global playing field that puts European industry in the broadest sense on an equal footing with its competitors".

Similarly, the Minister insisted that equity, solidarity and social policies must remain at the heart of the transition, which must be a just transition. With regard to the energy aspect of this discussion, the Minister said that "we will have to focus on technologies and measures that can be implemented quickly and that will enable us to achieve emissions reductions over this crucial decade and a half between now and 2040". He pointed out that we need to build on the commitment made by 124 countries at COP28 to promote renewable energies and energy efficiency.

Waste Framework Directive

Ministers held a policy debate on the Commission's proposal to revise the Waste Framework Directive with regard to the introduction of legally binding targets to reduce food waste and the introduction of a mandatory and harmonised Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for textiles.

In his speech, Serge Wilmes pointed out that voluntary measures to combat waste have been promoted at national level for a number of years. The Minister considers that the proposed reduction targets are generally achievable and that Luxembourg "will continue to contribute to the sustainable development objective of reducing food waste."

With regard to textiles, Minister Wilmes welcomed the proposal for the compulsory introduction of a specific EPR channel. For the Minister, it is important to emphasise and strengthen the role of social entities in the social economy. In terms of financing, Serge Wilmes believes that eco-modulation is appropriate to take account of the higher environmental cost of certain practices such as "super fast fashion".

Reducing pollution from microplastics

The ministers held a policy debate on the Commission's proposal to prevent the loss of plastic granules into the environment. The proposed regulation aims to further reduce microplastic pollution by tackling, in particular, unintentional releases of microplastics resulting from the handling of plastic pellets. Minister Serge Wilmes welcomed the Commission's adoption of the proposal, which complements the rules on the intentional release of microplastics covered by the so-called "REACH" legislation. In a broader context, the Minister also drew attention to the links between the proposal and the ongoing discussions on a global treaty against plastic pollution. Serge Wilmes considers that the inclusive approach proposed by the Commission of covering the entire supply chain is appropriate, but that clarification is needed in certain areas. Finally, the Minister considers it appropriate to extend the scope of application to maritime transport.

Nature restoration law - Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on nature restoration

Following approval of the draft regulation by the European Parliament, adoption of the dossier by the Council is, in principle, no more than a formality. However, in the absence of a qualified majority, the Belgian Presidency was obliged to postpone the adoption of this regulation.

Luxembourg has always been in favour of the regulation on nature restoration, the broad outlines of which are already to be found in Luxembourg's National Nature Protection Plan (PNPN3). In his speech, Serge Wilmes expressed his regret that the dossier was being held up on the home straight, and reassured the Presidency of the Grand Duchy's support in getting this regulation adopted as quickly as possible, which we need not only from an environmental point of view, but also from an economic one. 

Press release from the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Biodiversity

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