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Belgium lags behind in climate change prevention

The quarrel between Flanders and the other governments in this country weighs heavily on Belgium’s international standing. Will there be a repeat of the disastrous seven years of negotiations on a meagre Belgian climate agreement for 2020?

Belgium tumbles nine places down in the annual ranking on tackling climate change. With a 49th place on the Climate Performance Index, Belgium is far behind the two largest emitters worldwide. India is in tenth place, China is in 37. Of the EU member states, only Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland do worse than Belgium. Bulgaria is 44, all our neighbours are in the top 20.

In the last three years, Britain has committed to reducing emissions by an average of 3.2 CO2 equivalents per ton of CO2. However, the latest findings come amid heightened attention in Europe on the climate system. In the lead-up to the 2014 General Election, MEPs raised doubts over whether it could be possible to reduce emissions that are so common in industrial countries.

Last December, a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change highlighted the challenges faced by governments, particularly in southern Europe.

“The EU can only hope to tackle its own problems with renewable energy and the world’s fossil fuels,” says Professor Martin M. Seitz from the University of California, Riverside, who led the study and co-authored its lead-up to the 2016 elections.

“We think a big challenge is finding the right balance of economic prosperity and the power of political will to change that.”

That is to say, some countries may be able, according to the IPCC, to reduce CO2 emissions at the expense of other regions.

However it would do so in ways that did not take into account the current political climate and economic situation, says Prof Seitz.

The climate index is compiled by NGOs and compares the CO2 emissions, renewable energy, energy consumption and climate policies of more than 60 countries. The internal Belgian division about reducing emissions by 47 percent by 2030 weighs heavily in the ranking. On Monday, the Flemish minister for Climate, Zuhal Demir (N-VA), was the last EU country to approve the EU’s accession to the alliance of countries with high climate ambitions. But for Belgium to join the same alliance, Flanders is standing firm.

On the basis of that, a bad ranking can ask the Belgian ngo’s alliance Environmental group, Greenpeace, Inter-Environnement Wallonie and the WWF, the Flemish government quickly endorsed the Belgian emissions by at least 47%, and an internal-Belgian agreement on the division of labor. They want all governments in the short term to’take measures in all sectors to trigger structural emission reductions in our country’.

But that hope turns out to be vain. Flanders does not want to know about a 47 percent reduction – the Flemish climate plan aims at 40 percent – and even demands a European renegotiation of the Belgian figure. “Be careful what you wish for,” said prime minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) on Tuesday before the parliamentary Committee of the European union. ‘If we want to have a discussion about the climate target that every country in Europe has to deliver, the demand for a lower target can quickly arise financially.’

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