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Climate change: European Commission sets out strategy to reinvigorate global action after Copenhagen

The European Commission today set out a strategy to help maintain the momentum of global efforts to tackle climate change. The Communication proposes that the EU swiftly begin implementing last December's Copenhagen Accord, in particular 'fast start' financial assistance to developing countries.

By: EC Press Room - Posted: Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Commission President José Manuel Barroso said:
Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "The Commission is determined to keep up the momentum for global action on climate change; Today's communication sets out a clear strategy on the next steps needed to reinvigorate the international negotiations and engage our partners in this path."

In parallel the EU should continue to press for a robust and legally binding global agreement that involves all countries in real climate action. This will require integrating the Copenhagen Accord into the UN negotiations and addressing the weaknesses in the Kyoto Protocol. Active outreach by the EU will be key to promoting support for the UN negotiations and the Commission will undertake this effort in close contact with the Council and with the support of the European Parliament.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "The Commission is determined to keep up the momentum for global action on climate change; Today's communication sets out a clear strategy on the next steps needed to reinvigorate the international negotiations and engage our partners in this path. I will call on the next European Council to support this strategy building also on further consultations that I have asked Commissioner Hedegaard to undertake with key international partners."

Connie Hedegaard, Commissioner for Climate Action, said: "Climate change can be controlled only if all major emitters take action. Obviously nobody would stronger than myself hope that we could get everything done in Mexico, but the signals coming out of various capitals of big emitters unfortunately do not make that likely. In Copenhagen the world had a unique chance and did not use this to its full. We now have to secure the momentum and to do our utmost to get specific and substantial results out of Cancun and to secure no later than in South Africa an agreement on the legal form. Copenhagen was a step forward. Even if the Copenhagen Accord fell short of Europe's ambitions, the increasing support for it around the world gives the EU the opportunity to build on this and channel it into action. The most convincing leadership Europe can show is to take tangible and determined action to become the most climate friendly region in the world, which will also strengthen our energy security, stimulate greener economic growth and create new jobs.

Negotiations roadmap

The Communication proposes a roadmap for the UN negotiating process which will restart in April. The political guidance in the Copenhagen Accord – which was not formally adopted as a UN decision – needs to be integrated into the UN negotiating texts that contain the basis of the future global climate agreement. The EU would be ready to reach a legally binding global deal at the UN climate conference in Cancun, Mexico, at the end of this year, but the Commission recognises that differences between countries may delay an agreement until 2011. EU is ready but the world might not be, and therefore our approach has to be step-wise.

Copenhagen Accord

The Copenhagen Accord is a step towards the EU's goal of a legally binding global climate agreement, which should take effect in 2013 at the end of the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period. The Accord endorses the EU's core objective of keeping global warming below 2ºC above the pre-industrial temperature in order to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

To date industrialised and developing countries representing more than 80% of global greenhouse gases emissions have inscribed their emission targets or actions in the Accord. This shows the determination of a majority of nations to step up their action against climate change.

Environmental integrity

The international negotiations must ensure the future global agreement will have a high level of environmental integrity and will actually keep warming below 2°C. The Kyoto Protocol remains the central building block of the UN process but the limited number of countries it covers, and its serious weaknesses, must be addressed. If allowed to continue these weaknesses, which concern accounting rules for forestry emissions and the handling of surplus national emission rights from the 2008-2012 period, would risk reducing industrialised countries' current emission reduction pledges to almost zero.

EU leadership

The Commission believes the EU must show leadership by taking tangible action to become the most climate friendly region of the world as part of the Europe 2020 strategy proposed on 3 March. The EU has committed to a 20% emissions cut below 1990 levels by 2020, and to scaling up this reduction to 30% if other major economies agree to do their fair share of the global effort. Ahead of the June European Council, the Commission will prepare an analysis of what practical policies would be required to implement the 30% emission reduction. The Commission will later outline a pathway for the EU's transition to becoming a low-carbon economy by 2050. Consistent with the EU 2020 strategy, the goal is to come with intelligent solutions that benefit not only climate change, but also energy security and job creation.

Delivering 'fast-start' funding

The Commission suggests that the EU starts implementing the Copenhagen Accord. Swift implementation of the EU's commitment to provide €2.4 billion in 'fast start' financial assistance to developing countries annually in 2010-2012 is essential both to the EU's credibility and to enhancing recipient countries' capacities to address climate change. The Commission is ready to help ensure the EU's assistance is well coordinated .

Advancing carbon markets

The Communication underlines that the EU should continue to work to advance the development of the international carbon market, which is essential for driving low-carbon investments and reducing global emissions cost-effectively. The carbon market can also generate major financial flows to developing countries.

Stepping up outreach

The EU will need to bolster its outreach in order to build confidence that a global deal can be reached and to explore specific action-oriented decisions that can be taken in Cancun. The Commission will undertake this outreach in close contact with the Council and its Presidency, and would encourage and assist the European Parliament to engage fully with parliamentarians from key partner countries.

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