Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Environment: EU and climate change

Representatives from over 180 countries gather in Bali 3-14 December to discuss the future of international efforts to halt global warming. A European Parliament delegation will attend the UN Climate Change Conference 11-14 December. On 15 November, the EP called for agreement on binding emissions targets for all industrialised countries and a 50% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of this century.

Commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to cut greenhouse gas emissions from industrialised countries by about 5% from 1990 levels expire in 2012. These gases, including CO2, increase temperatures. Since 1970 CO2 emissions have grown about 80% and CO2 concentration today exceeds the natural range over the last 650,000 years.

Many scientists believe that a more than 2°C increase in global temperature, compared with pre-industrial age levels, will make the consequences of global warming very difficult to manage and very costly. To limit global warming to +2°C requires a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 50% from 1990 levels by 2050.

Main aims from Bali

The EU wants to get agreement to launch official negotiations for a post-Kyoto climate protection framework. It wants the Bali "roadmap" to include timing, the role of developing countries in the fight against climate change, technology development and market mechanisms.

The EP wants the increase in greenhouse gases stopped in the next 10 years and then drastically reduced. It wants the Bali conference to agree on a political mandate for detailed and technical negotiations on an binding international agreement to limit climate change to be implemented by 2009. The new agreement would replace Kyoto, which does not have emission caps for emerging economies and has not been ratified by the US.

What MEPs want to see

The chair of the Climate Committee, Italian socialist Guido Sacconi said Bali could mark the “the return of the multilateral approach in international relations...For Europe it will be an opportunity to demonstrate the seriousness of the commitments already under taken and of our determination in getting an overall agreement that is effective for the reduction of emissions but also fair to the developing countries."

Liam Aylward, an Irish member of the UEN group said, "The key is to engage the most important players...Personally I think that we need to aim high for a breakthrough to reach consensus to launch negotiations which will be completed by 2009. I will take a particular interest in the agenda dealing with deforestation. We spend so much time analyzing the challenge of lowering carbon in our atmosphere, yet the lungs of the world which absorb this carbon are being cut down at an unacceptable rate, drastically altering biodiversity and threatening endangered species."

Developing countries key

Lena Ek, a Swedish member of the ALDE group, said “An essential part of the Bali discussions will be about developing countries and the challenge for these countries to combine economical development with environmental friendly technology. They need our support, not only in beautiful words, but our financial support and help to apply new technologies.”

"In order to finally get the emerging economies on board we will have to make an offer that is acceptable to them. The principle of 'climate equity' with equal emissions per head for everybody should be a good starting point," said German Green Rebecca Harms.

Delegation chair Alejo Vidal-Quadras says a key topic will be "carbon market mechanisms and how to develop a worldwide solution, including the calculation of emissions per capita...Our Emissions Trading System is, in theory, an excellent market based instrument but will only be able to deliver positive effects if it's applied on a much larger scale. This is why the EU needs to keep in mind the limitations third countries have and be open to complementary solutions they might propose."

EP Targets for the post Kyoto agreement laid down in a resolution adopted 15 November:

* Limit warming
* Reduce CO2 emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to the 1990 level.
* Broader participation (US and emerging economies)
* Establishment of a global system to cap emissions and trade allowances
* Financial support for climate change adaptation and climate protection efforts
* Mechanisms for transfer of climate-friendly technologies
* Provide incentives to avoid deforestation and climate harming land-use

Source: European Parliament