1.1. EU cobbles together climate aid for Copenhagen
11 December 2009, EurActiv
European Union leaders claimed today (11 December) they had drawn up "a very strong mandate" to take to the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen next week, committing 2.4 billion euros per year to help developing countries tackle global warming. But senior politicians and NGOs cried foul, saying the sum was no more than a re-packaging of existing development aid.
Frederik Reinfeldt, Swedish prime minister and current EU presidency holder, said he was "particularly satisfied" to announce the EU’s global contribution to so-called ‘fast-start’ funding covering the 2010-2012 period.
He said he was pleased that the Union had achieved its high target of seven billion euros in yearly assistance for developing countries in dealing with short-term adaptation and mitigation of climate change, and to help build capacity, until 2012. An earlier EU agreement had put the funding at between five and seven billion euros (see ‘Background’).
He also announced that the EU was confirming its conditional offer to move from 20% to a 30% reduction by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, "if other developed parts of the world make the same kind of contribution".
"We agreed on a very strong mandate for Copenhagen […] It’s a firm commitment to play a leading role when it comes to climate issues in the coming week," Reinfeldt said.
Contributions from all 27 member states were obtained following late-night diplomacy, the Swedish premier remarked with satisfaction. However, these contributions were in some cases symbolic. Bulgaria, for instance, committed as little as 20,000 euros per year (EurActiv 11/12/09). For its part, Poland committed 10% of the funds raised from selling its "hot air", the surplus emissions credits delivered under the Kyoto Protocol.
In addition to the figures already announced by EurActiv, during the summit France committed 420 million euros per year.
‘Combination of old and new’ money
However, questions were raised as to whether the money was new or if it was simply a re-branding of development aid already committed.
"The 2.4 billion figure is a combination of new and old resources," Reinfeldt said in response to journalists’ questions. "The thing is that we directed to the years between 2010 and 2012 and to climate adaptation measures. These are pinpointed resources, climate-linked, between these years."
For his part, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "Honestly, if we want to help developing countries, you have to find additional sources of financing. In the current situation, with our budgets, not only in Europe, but developed countries, it would be extremely difficult to ask for any additional efforts."
Barroso said this is why the EU is considering using so-called "innovative financing" to find the extra cash. These could take the form of a ‘Tobin tax’ on international financial payments, and proceeds from reducing CO2 emissions in air and maritime transport and the sale of CO2 emission quotas, among other sources.
In a joint statement, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated:
"To ensure predictable and additional finance in the medium term to 2020 and beyond, we should make use of innovative financing mechanisms, such as the use of revenues from a global financial transactions tax and the reduction of aviation and maritime emissions and the auctioning of national emissions permits. We will work together on this."
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said at the final press conference:
"Britain’s contribution is one that we are proud we are making, and that is $800 million or £500 million a year. That makes it possible for the poorest countries to come to the table knowing that they can mitigate carbon emissions and adapt to climate change."
Brown said he and other EU leaders would do "everything in our power" to secure an ambitious deal at the UN summit in Copenhagen, which concludes next week.
"I believe there is goodwill now, that there is a determination that things move forward. Obviously we are hoping that other countries respond to the generous offers that Europe has made but we look forward to a successful outcome," the British PM further added.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said after the summit that aid for developing countries is "today a mix", the objective being that addressing the climate change challenge should not come at the expense of the Millenium Development Goals.
"As for the 2010 budget, we had to cobble something together, because it has already been put in place. But the objective is to foot the bill, and therefore we will push for innovative financing," he said.
As for the Copenhagen summit, he said he would arrive on Thursday (17 December), instead of the previous day.
"Barack Obama said he will arrive on the 18th. I am not going to stay there for 48 hours watching the negotiations and telling you that nothing is moving," the French president said.
Speaking to EurActiv, Jo Leinen , chair of the European Parliament ‘s environment committee and leader of the MEP delegation to Copenhagen , said the Parliament will make sure that there is "no trick" concerning the amounts earmarked to help developing countries address climate change.
Hailing the fact that EU leaders had given "a positive signal to developing countries" and expressing hope that by showing its readiness to help, Europe "will break the deadlock in Copenhagen," he added: "The European Parliament has asked for fresh money, because we have more than one crisis: climate, but also poverty […] I would not exclude that we have overlapping programmes, but we have to make sure that there is no trick."
"This is progress in the sense that the EU has, as far as I understand, for the first time expressed its own offer," Finnish Green MEP Satu Hassi told EurActiv. "It is also good in the sense that it implicitly states that the EU’s share would amount to about a third," she said.
Nevertheless, Hassi said she had hoped that the leaders would increase Europe’s mid-term emission reduction target to 30%. She pointed out that the EU could have helped to ensure sufficient emission reduction ambitions in the Copenhagen talks by organising the next bidding round on targets now that all the important parties had put their offers on the table.
Development agency ActionAid issued a press release entitled ‘The EU’s fast-start finance – is it new money?’
The European Union’s new numbers on fast-start climate finance for developing countries are highly questionable, according to the development agency.
Almost all of the money is likely to be simply a relabelling of existing aid commitments, ActionAid claims.
"Many EU members have a track record of repackaging or re-announcing existing aid commitments. This appears to be the case here too. Real leadership on climate change requires real money and the EU is clearly failing here,” said ActionAid EU expert Anne-Catherine Claude.
"The key test of whether money is truly new is whether it is additional to the 0.7 aid target that rich countries signed up to 39 years ago," said Claude. "None of the money announced today appears to meet that test."
The EU also failed to move forward on long-term finance by simply re-stating its existing global target of €22-50 billion of public money by 2020, which at best, is less than half of what is needed, ActionAid states.
WWF issued a statement via Jason Anderson , head of EU climate and energy policy at WWF’s European Policy Office:
"The European Council has missed a great opportunity to move forward on emissions reductions targets, and to inspire real progress in the final, crucial week of negotiations in Copenhagen. This is extremely disappointing. The EU has always tried to position itself as a leader in the global climate change debate – but that claim is looking increasingly threadbare. The science makes it abundantly clear that developed countries must cut emissions by 40% by 2020 in order to keep warming below the critical two degree threshold. Yet the EU has again failed to move beyond its offer to reduce emissions by 20% – even though this can be achieved without any further domestic effort."
WWF is also critical of accounting "hot air" regarding the contribution by Eastern EU countries in combating climate change.
"It also seems that the EU has failed to make any progress in closing two key loopholes that will further undermine the already weak emission targets. Until the EU makes progress in tackling so-called ‘hot air’ – the surplus emission allowances held by several Eastern EU member states – and the accounting tricks associated with land use and forestry emissions, the ambition of any EU emission target will be very much less than it seems. This loophole could allow countries to set their own levels of projected deforestation, from which they will assess how much carbon they have saved by not reaching their projected level. As they can set the bar as high as they want to, it could allow a handful of member states to predict doom, only deliver disaster, and claim credit for the difference."
"The chances of reaching a just and fair international agreement on combating climate change are extremely slim today after European heads of state failed to significantly strengthen the EU’s position for Copenhagen," Friends of the Earth Europe stated following the summit.
"EU climate ambitions would be achieved with a huge element of offsetting which is an excuse for developed countries not to reduce emissions at the scale and speed science says is needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change," a press release reads.
"To stand a reasonable chance of staying below the crucial two degrees Celsius global warming threshold, Europe and other developed countries which are historically responsible for causing climate change must cut their emissions by at least 40% by 2020 without offsetting," Friends of the Earth Europe state.
"Providing fast track money cannot excuse the EU from its real long-term commitments. That the EU is largely using money which otherwise would have been used to build schools or deliver health care in the developing world is shameful and will not be welcomed by developing countries in Copenhagen," said Sonja Meister , climate campaign coordinator at Friends of the Earth Europe .
She claimed that EU leaders had "repackaged" development aid money to achieve climate change goals. Tim Gore, Oxfam International ‘s EU climate change policy advisor, said:
"In Copenhagen poor countries are demanding real commitments of long-term finance to tackle climate change. In Brussels today, EU leaders only offered small sums of short-term cash. Worst of all, this money is not even new – it’s made up of a recycling of past promises, and payments that have already been made."
"Each member state that has pledged a sum for the EU total should now own up to where the money will come from, whether it has already been committed elsewhere, and what it’s to be used for."
"To regain trust with developing countries, EU heads of state and government need to come to Copenhagen ready to commit their fair share of the long-term finance poor countries need – upwards of 35 billion euros every year from 2013. To seal the deal, they must guarantee the money will be new and come on top of commitments already made on development aid," Gore stated.
Greens/EFA President Rebecca Harms issued a written statement claiming that EU leaders had again missed an opportunity to reclaim Europe’s leading role in the UN climate negotiations.
"While the EU has avoided total disgrace by agreeing a commitment on fast-track climate financing for developing countries (2010-12), it needed to do far more to restore Europe’s credibility, with the crucial summit now underway in Copenhagen."
"The summit shamefully failed to deliver the necessary step up in the EU’s emissions reduction target from 20% to 30% […] The Council also failed to clarify its position on the crucial make-or-break issue of long-term financing for developing countries. This makes a mockery of the EU’s continued claims of climate leadership and is in contradiction with the EU’s goal of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius," Harms concluded.
Commenting on the conclusions of the EU summit, German Green MEP Sven Giegold commented:
"We welcome that – for the first time – the European Council has shown its support for a financial transaction tax. The pledge is made a little too easily given that it is specifically made for a global tax, the best solution but one already rejected by the US Secretary of the Treasury."
"The Greens/EFA Group calls on Europe to go it alone if necessary and pioneer the introduction of the financial transaction tax. Each time zone and each currency area can introduce such a tax autonomously. The evasion possibilities are within acceptable limits, given that the ECB has wide control possibilities when it comes to settlement of euro transactions," Giegold stated.
1.2. EU summit struggles to raise climate aid cash
11 December 2009, EurActiv
European nations are set to pledge around six billion euros to help poor nations tackle global warming at a summit in Brussels today (11 December), but the funding will be provided on a voluntary basis as a result of worrying debt problems in countries like Greece.
Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish prime minister and current holder of the EU’s six-month rotating residency, said he was confident that the sums would be found.
More than half of the EU’s 27 member states have already promised so-called ‘fast-start’ funding for the next three years until 2013, he explained.
But the Swedish premier warned that contributions would only be made on a voluntary basis, as countries are in very different budgetary positions.
"We have [EU] member states with [International Monetary Fund] programmes, with huge budget deficits. This is on a voluntary basis, and already more than half of the states have provided figures," Reinfeltd told a press conference in Brussels yesterday (10 December).
Britain last month pledged 880 million euros towards that target. On Friday (11 December), it said it was ready to raise that figure to 1.65 billion euros over three years.
France has announced on Friday that it would make 1.26 billion available over the same period.
Sweden has pledged about 800m euros.
The Netherlands has pledged 300m euros.
Denmark has set aside 160m euros.
Spain has pledged 300m euros.
Finland has pledged 100m euros.
Some countries are a cause for concern with their mounting debt problems, which critics say are partly caused by generous state aid programmes to relaunch Europe’s economy after the worst recession the continent has suffered since the Second World War.
Greek debt problem
Greece , a member of the 16-country euro zone, was at the centre of concerns yesterday with a debt estimated at 300 billion euros, or 125% of GDP. The Stability and Growth Pact, which governs the euro zone, limits public debt to a maximum of 60% of GDP.
EU leaders tried to soothe concerns over Greece yesterday, with Eurogroup chair Jean-Claude Juncker saying he "completely excluded a bankruptcy of the Greek state". "The government will take measures for the short, medium and long term," Juncker said on the margins of a meeting of the European People’s Party (EPP) in Bonn.
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said on Thursday he was confident Greece would overcome its debt problems.
"After talks with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, I am fully confident that Greece will be fully successful in that endeavour," Barroso told a news conference after the first day of the summit of EU leaders.
Eastern countries reluctant
Other eurozone nations such as Ireland have adopted austere budgets to improve their debt problem, while some Eastern European countries outside the euro, such as Hungary, are under life support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Meanwhile, Poland and other Eastern states such as Bulgaria have said they would rather receive aid to lower their carbon emissions than make contributions to poorer nations outside Europe.
Germany , the largest contributor to the EU budget, seems to prefer to tactically wait for other rich nations, such as the US, to put money on the table at the UN climate change conference currently taking place in Copenhagen.
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said he was expecting a figure to be presented at the conclusion of the summit today (11 December).
"We will work throughout the night to get everything into place," Reinfeldt said yesterday. "There will always be differences between 27 independent states. But I believe that we will have come up with a better number in the morning than we did tonight when it comes to money for adaption measures. During dinner, there was an atmosphere of clear consensus on the need for European leadership when it comes to the conclusion in Copenhagen. That is why discussions will continue," said Reinfeldt.
Elise Ford , head of Oxfam International’s EU office , warned EU leaders not to pledge aid that has already been committed under other assistance programmes. "EU leaders can set the pace of negotiations in Copenhagen with their decisions on financing. They must stop prevaricating on their commitments to big, long-term money for poor countries. Offering just a token handout for the next three years made up of recycled promises won’t achieve the breakthrough in talks we need."
"Putting a concrete sum for the EU’s fair share of the long-term finance needed, and guaranteeing that this won’t just re-brand existing commitments, could be a game-changer," Ford said.
1.3. EU summit misses opportunity to boost global climate talks
11 December 2009, Greenpeace
Just as Greenpeace activists were being released by Belgian police following a daring action at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, European governments admitted that they have failed to increase their emission reduction target to an unconditional 30% cut by 2020 (based on 1990 levels). Also at the summit, EU leaders agreed on short-term financing for climate action in developing countries of €2.4 billion a year, to be delivered by EU member states over the next three years.
“While more and more countries announce new climate action in Copenhagen, the EU stood still today, refusing to put anything more ambitious on the table. The EU is acting like Copenhagen is a trade negotiation, when in fact it is about the future of our planet,” said Joris den Blanken, Greenpeace EU climate policy director. “The ‘wait and see’ attitude of Barroso and some EU member states are responsible for this paralysis.”
Greenpeace activists, who were arrested following a peaceful action at the EU summit on Thursday, are being released by Belgian police. Eleven activists evaded tight security to deliver a message to EU governments from the red carpet used by European presidents and prime ministers. The activists, dressed in suits and ties, unfurled three banners reading: ‘EU: save Copenhagen.’ Travelling in a special Greenpeace motorcade, the activists entered EU summit grounds amid official government delegations, a few minutes after Czech prime minister Jan Fischer and just ahead of British prime minister Gordon Brown.
“Since the Kyoto agreement in 1997, the EU has consistently raised ambitions in climate negotiations, with other countries eventually following suit. Halfway through the most important climate talks to date is not the time for the EU to suddenly change this winning strategy,” said den Blanken.
Following the EU summit’s concluding press conference where EU President Fredrik Reinfeldt announced short-term finance for climate action in developing countries over the next three years, Greenpeace EU climate policy director Joris den Blanken said: “Short-term money for developing countries is necessary, but EU leaders are avoiding the really crucial issues of longer term financing and the emissions target. Climate change will not end in three years, carbon emissions from poorer countries will not end in three years, deforestation in those countries will not end in 3 years, so neither should the flow of cash.”
1.4. Rich nations criticize climate draft
12 December 2009, Google
Industrial countries criticized a draft climate pact Saturday for not making stronger demands on major developing countries as environment ministers arrived in Copenhagen to ramp up the level of talks.
Initial reaction to the negotiating text submitted Friday underscored the split between the U.S.-led wealthy countries and countries still struggling to overcome poverty and catch up with the modern world.
The tightly focused document was meant to lay out the crunch themes for environment ministers to wrestle with as they prepare for a summit of some 110 heads of state and government at the end of next week.
U.S. delegate Jonathan Pershing said the draft failed to address the contentious issue of carbon emissions by emerging economies.
"The current draft didn’t work in terms of where it is headed," Pershing said in the plenary, supported by the European Union, Japan and Norway.
Environment ministers started arriving in the Danish capital Saturday for informal talks before world leaders join the summit late next week.
On the chilly streets outside the conference center, police assigned extra squads to watch thousands of protesters gathering for a march to demand that leaders act now to fight climate change.
"All week we have heard a string of excuses from northern countries to make adequate reparations for the ecological crisis that they have caused," said Lidy Nacpil, of the Jubilee South Coalition. "We are taking to the streets to demand that the ecological debt is repaid to the people of the South," she said in a statement.
Environmental activists also rallied in Asia to increase the pressure on climate negotiators in Copenhagen.
"There’s not much time left for us to save our climate," said Liu Shuang, an officer with Greenpeace China, as traditional drummers kept up a steady beat in front of an ancient Beijing gate with about 200 people looking on.
Thousands marched in a "Walk Against Warming" in major cities acrosss Australia and about 200 Filipino activists staged a festive rally in Manila to mark the Global Day of Action on climate change. Dozens of Indonesian environmental activists rallied in front of the US Embassy in Jakarta.
The draft distributed to the 192-nation conference set no firm figures on financing or on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
It said all countries together should reduce emissions by a range of 50 percent to 95 percent by 2050, and rich countries should cut emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020, in both cases using 1990 as the baseline year.
The draft continues the system for industrial countries set up in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol by which they are legally bound to targets for emission reductions and face penalties if they fall short. It makes no similar requirements of developing countries like China and India, which have pledged to reduce the growth rate of emissions but reject the notion of turning those voluntary pledges into legal commitments.
So far, industrial nations’ pledges to cut emissions have amounted to far less than the minimum.
The draft also left open the form of the agreement — whether it will be a legal document or a political declaration.
Ian Fry, the representative of the tiny Pacific island of Tuvalu, made an emotional appeal for the strongest format, one that would legally bind all nations to commitments to control carbon emissions.
"I woke up this morning crying, and that’s not easy for a grown man to admit," Fry said, choking as he spoke in the plenary crowded with hundreds of delegates. "The fate of my country rests in your hands."
European Union leaders announced in Brussels this week after two days of tough talks that they would commit $3.6 billion (euro2.4 billion) a year until 2012 to a short-term fund for poor countries. Most of this money came from Britain, France and Germany. Many cash-strapped former East bloc countries balked at donating but eventually all gave at least a token amount to preserve the 27-nation bloc’s unity.
Still unknown is how much the wealthier nations, such as the U.S. and Japan, will contribute.
1.5. China v. the USA: end of round one
10 December 2009, Sandbag
The real fight in the Copenhagen climate negotiations is between China and the USA, the top two mega-emitters both with no legal requirement to reduce their emissions. Each wants the other to sign up to targets. In the US’s case this is so they can reassure their constituency back home they can move forward on climate change without fear of impacting their economic competitiveness. For China it is about the West making good on its moral responsibility to lead given the historic contribution the West has made to emissions. But also potentially to ensure there is a growing market for the low carbon technologies they are quickly becoming dominant in.
It was China who landed the first blow with chief negotiator Su Wei saying in a Chinese press conference – itself an unusual event – that the US’s target didn’t really amount to much and implying they wanted to see them commit to a 25% reduction on 1990 levels by 2020 – more than double the 17% off 2005 levels they have offered to date.
In a slightly more covert attack the choreographed leak of the ‘Danish text’ lead to outraged reaction from African nations. China played no visible part in the furore but most suspect African nations are acting as their allies.
Arriving in Copenhagen yesterday Todd Stern was quick to rally: China is a rich country with a booming economy – without their involvement any deal will be meaningless and so they must add their national commitments to the international framework.
So far so predictable. But then what’s this? Tiny island nation Tuvalu has entered the ring with a new proposal to discuss a framework that includes all countries, the US and China included. A move certain to upset the major developing countries, who did indeed object, causing a suspension of the negotiations as Tuvalu stuck to its guns.
So ends round one. At this stage it’s hard to say who’d ahead on points but the G77 and China coalition does appear to be showing signs of stress. Clearly a lot has changed in the world since 1997 when Kyoto was signed, China’s boom since then has been remarkable while Western economies have shown signs of stagnation. The UN system has to show itself capable of adapting to changes in the real world or it could be rendered irrelevant something the least developed countries really can’t allow to happen.
2.1. UN carbon-offsetting scheme ‘in urgent need of reform’
11 December 2009, EurActiv
International carbon emission offsets are likely to continue to be based on the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), as the EU’s proposal to replace it with sectoral crediting will not be feasible for years to come, Eva Filzmoser, coordinator at CDM Watch, told EurActiv in an interview.
Filzmoser said the ongoing climate talks in Copenhagen are likely to produce only a framework agreement on the CDM, leaving details to be filled out later. She stressed that it will be necessary to come to an agreement on the purpose of the mechanism before its form can be considered.
"The discussion about the CDM has to be seen in the context of the political discussions about emission reduction targets," she said. "If targets are not ambitious enough – which is the case for the moment – no mechanism that would allow offsetting half of domestic emissions is acceptable," she said.
NGOs working on the reform of the CDM system are complaining that civil society’s opinions are constantly being ignored, Filzmoser pointed out. Currently, the people affected by the projects can only make comments at the beginning of the project, when developers are promising employment and new schools, but when these have failed to materialise and the credits have already been generated, there is no longer any opportunity to comment, she said.
"I think there are some easy changes that can make a big difference. If you add a commenting period in the monitoring phase of a project, you get real assessment and an incentive for developers to implement it correctly in the first place," Filzmoser said.
Her main criticism of the CDM relates to its design as an offsetting mechanism, which requires checking the additionality of the emission reductions against which credits are generated (see ‘Background’).
"Efforts to fix the CDM within its current structure will not be successful because project-by-project additionality testing is inherently subjective and impossible to do accurately," Filtzmoser said. She asserted that the benefits accruing from technology transfer hardly outweigh the problems caused by all the non-additional and outright harmful projects in the pipeline.
Hydro projects wiping out large areas of natural resources and local job losses resulting from waste management projects are just two examples of the negative consequences of the projects being implemented at the moment, the environmentalist said.
"The overarching principle of the CDM, sustainable development, is completely lacking," Filzmoser said. "Under the current scheme, host countries do not have incentives to reject projects with fewer sustainable development benefits, as this lowers their revenues and overall market share."
Overall, among the thousands of projects proposed, very few have yet been rejected due to a lack of sustainable development, NGOs point out.
According to Filzmoser, the CDM reform should provide more transparency and penalties for failing to ensure sustainability. Turning the CDM Executive Board into a professional, independent entity would be a major step, as its members are currently "directed by the interests of their home countries," she claimed.
Indeed, a new report by the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) showed last week (4 December) that governance failures are driving investors away from the multi-billion dollar scheme. It identified a lack of CDM staff and expertise, as well as administrative problems, as a source of frustration among investors.
This uncertainty has been further exacerbated by proposals to move away from the CDM towards sectoral crediting mechanisms in the post-Kyoto era, IETA said. It called for the parties in Copenhagen to ensure that registered projects will be eligible for full crediting post-2012.
Sectoral crediting not an answer to everything
The EU has been advocating a shift to sectoral approaches in advanced developing countries to avoid the pitfalls of the project-based CDM. This would entail setting up a baseline for business-as-usual emissions in the sector, which would start earning credits once its emissions fall below the reference levels by an agreed amount.
But Filzmoser cautioned that sectoral crediting mechanisms could be rigged with similar concerns to those that plague the current CDM if the baselines and credit thresholds are not set properly, warning that targets could be watered down in the final hours of negotiations.
"Moreover, such an approach is likely to cause perverse incentives in delaying voluntary action in developing countries in order to keep the baseline up – and hence, earn credits," she warned.
Filzmoser argued that the EU’s statements have spread misconceptions over when such an approach would become feasible. She claimed that it would take at least a decade to implement a sectoral crediting mechanism, while current CDM projects have crediting periods of up to 10 years.
The discrepancy becomes even more glaring when one considers the 5,000 or so CDM projects that are currently in the pipeline against the fact that sectoral approaches would begin with up to five sectors in a few countries, Filzmoser said.
The cement sector has been leading the way in exploring ways to implement a sectoral approach (EurActiv 26/05/09). Heavily concentrated in just a few countries, cement producers argue that it would be possible for them to reach an effective sector-wide agreement.
Nevertheless, the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) of the World Business Council warned that confusion still reigns over what sectoral crediting actually means. It argued that many developing countries oppose the principle for fear that it is a clever way for industrialised countries to impose absolute emission caps on them by stealth.
2.2. EU should cut emissions by at least 30% to retain leadership, MEPs say
11 December 2009, EurActiv
The EU should cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30% if a global target of limiting warming to 2°C is to be achieved, Green activists and politicians urged ahead of this week’s two-day European Council in Brussels (10-11 December).
"The heads of state and government should offer a ’30/30′ climate protection package to their international partners: 30% reduction of GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions by 2020 and 30 billion euros in financial contributions for climate protection measures in developing countries," demanded German Socialist MEP Jo Leinen, chairman of the European Parliament’s environment committee and leader of the EU assembly’s delegation to the UN climate conference.
EU countries have already unilaterally committed themselves to reducing their carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.
In addition, EU leaders will head to the UN-led Copenhagen conference on climate change with an offer to cut the bloc’s emissions by 30% "provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emission reductions and that developing countries contribute adequately according to their responsibilities and respective capabilities," according to draft conclusions of the EU summit (EurActiv 09/12/09).
"The EU’s leadership role for climate protection must not be an empty shell but needs to be filled with life at this decisive moment," explained Leinen, who stressed that the offers currently on the table would not manage to stabilise global warming at a maximum of 2°C.
Indeed, the offers available at present do not please environmentalists or Green politicians either. "The EU is coasting on statistical anomalies. Around half the emissions reductions that have occurred in the EU to date have been the result of the collapse of former Soviet industries and the economic recession, rather than policy choices," argued Finnish Green MEP Satu Hassi.
Her statement is based on a study published yesterday (9 November) by the Ecofys Institute, a Dutch consultancy firm specialised in environmental issues. The report was commissioned by the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament.
"This study reveals the EU’s proclaimed leadership in international climate policy to be a myth," Hassi added in a statement arguing that the EU’s flagship emissions trading scheme is at risk of being "ineffective".
A key theory expressed in the report is that "emissions in the EU declined by 10.7% from 1990 to 2008 for two reasons: environmental policies and the de-industrialisation of Eastern Europe in the 1990s. Without these two factors, emissions would now be above the level in 1990," reads the study.
The current rate of emission reduction in the EU is only 1% a year, which would be barely enough to achieve the target of a 20% cut, experts estimate. To achieve a 30% reduction, the annual cut of emissions should reach 2%.
Even so, the Greens believe the overall objective of limiting global warming to 2°C will not be reached.
"This would require the EU to promise emissions reductions of at least 40% by 2020. On top of this, the emissions reductions must be delivered domestically and not simply offset by purchasing credits," argued Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout.
His argument was echoed by NGOs. "Europe must up its commitment and agree to at least 40% emissions reductions by 2020 at home. This is technically and economically feasible," Sonja Meister, climate campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe, said in a statement.
In December, the Stockholm Environment Institute published a report which estimated the cost to the EU of cutting its emissions by 40% would be "within the range of 1% to 3% of EU GDP" between 2010 and 2020.
"The EU’s leadership role for climate protection must not be an empty shell but needs to be filled with life at this decisive moment," said German Socialist MEP Jo Leinen , chairman of the European Parliament’s environment committee and leader of the EU assembly’s delegation to the UN climate conference.
An ambitious offer by Europe will also increase the pressure on other international partners to put improved climate aims on the negotiating table, Leinen explained. "The currently known offers do not suffice at all to stabilise global warming at a maximum of 2° Celsius," he warned.
2.3. WWF reaction to Business Europe’s statement on EU targets
8 December 2009, WWF
In reaction to Business Europe’s call today from the UN climate conference in Copenhagen, which asks the EU leaders not to increase its emission reduction target for 2020 from the existing weak 20% offer, Jason Anderson, Head of EU Climate and Energy Policy at WWF said:
"European leaders must not pay attention to Business Europe’s outdated attitudes – if they listen to this special pleading not only will they be committing the world to a temperature rise way above 2 degrees, they will also be ignoring the multitude of forward-thinking companies who are keen to embrace the opportunities presented by a low carbon economy. Just as the world gathers for perhaps the most important meeting of our generation, Europe needs to rediscover its previous leadership in the climate debate."
Many progressive business voices have called for strong action on climate change in recent months, in Europe and around the world. These include companies involved in the Prince of Wales’ EU Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, WWF’s Climate Savers and the Climate Group.
"Here at Copenhagen, the potential for real progress is being hindered by the lack of ambition from industrialised countries. When EU leaders meet in Brussels at the end of this week, they have a real chance to inject new energy into the talks by increasing the ambition of the EU’s emission target – and a growing number of politicians such as Gordon Brown and Jean-Louis Borloo are flirting with doing the right thing. It is vital that leaders ignore the short-sighted attempt by elements of the European business lobby to block progress and shackle their ambition."
"The reality is that the EU’s current target to cut emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 is embarrassingly easy to reach, and seriously undermined by high access to offsets and other loopholes. This weak target would lock Europe into a high carbon future and ensure it misses out on huge benefits for jobs and innovation."
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