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>EU throws unilateral climate change under the bus

>In the face of even more economic turmoil European leaders have decided that they no longer want to go it alone in the fight to save the planet.

EU environment ministers want advanced developing states like China and India to “contribute adequately” to emissions reductions as part of a global climate change agreement next year. Meanwhile, a deal on the EU’s own climate and energy package remains elusive following opposition from Italy.

You mean they are now taking the position supported by Australian PM John Howard and American President George W Bush?

In addition to comparable CO2 reduction commitments by developed states like the US, rapidly developing countries “would have to reduce their emissions by 15 to 30% below business as usual” by 2020 in order for the EU to sign up to a global emissions reductions regime in Copenhagen in December 2009, according to conclusions adopted by EU environment ministers yesterday (20 October) in Luxembourg.

Such mitigation efforts by rapidly growing developing states, notably China, would produce significant “co-benefits in terms of reduced air pollution, protection of biodiversity and energy security,” and emissions reduction credits obtained through afforestation or anti-deforestation efforts could provide a “major contribution” to reaching the targets, the conclusions state.

Least-developed states could be exempt from any constraints on emissions, while obligations on more advanced developing countries could be met through a variety of mechanisms, including sectoral industry agreements, according to the text.

The conclusions set the stage for discussions during the next major UN climate meeting, scheduled for 1 to 12 December in Poznan, Poland. The talks could become acrimonious, since rapidly developing countries like China, India and Brazil are likely to resist any calls for significant and binding emissions reductions on the grounds that developed states have not only got more financing and technological capacity to cut CO2 emissions, but also assume historical responsibility for the lion’s share of existing greenhouse gas emissions.

In the trenches

EU states, meanhwile, have dug their heels in on several divisive points of the climate and energy package, and environment ministers failed to produce any major breakthrough during their talks in Luxembourg.

Italy and Poland remain wary that the package will be too costly for their already ailing industrial sectors, in particular given the current squeeze on financing. And Germany is at loggerheads with the Commission over the issue of when and how certain industry sectors should be identified and singled out for exemptions from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

Most observers now expect a final deal to be reached during the EU summit of 11-12 December in the ‘classic’ EU style, characterised by marathon negotiations between heads of state and last-minute, late-night deals to get reluctant states on board.

A deal is not out of the question, however, as Italy and Poland “may eventually content themselves with a few additional exemptions and sweeteners, or possibly a ‘review’ clause in 2009,” the European Policy Centre (EPC) writes in an analysis of the 15-16 October summit conclusions.

Italy has tabled the idea of a review clause, whereby the cost of the package would be assessed and put to renewed scrutiny at the end of 2009.

The CCS ‘hot potato’

Several European states, notably Poland, and key developing states like China and India, are expected to remain highly dependent on coal for power generation over the coming decades. To prevent runaway CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants, the EU has said it will unveil 10 to 12 carbon capture and storage (CCS – see EurActiv LinksDossier) demonstration plants by 2015 in order to kickstart the commercial development of a technology widely believed to constitute a key piece in the climate change ‘puzzle’.

But it remains unclear whether EU member states will back significant financial pledges to get the plants built. A number of environment ministers voiced their opposition yesterday to a financing proposal co-authored by UK Liberal MEP Chris Davies and Irish Christian Democrat MEP Avril Doyle, who want up to 500 million emissions allowances normally reserved for new entrants to the EU ETS to be set aside as an incentive for the first CCS plants.

The UK and the Netherlands, however, are said to support the plans, and Davies is currently touring EU capitals to drum up support for the financing scheme, according to a source close to the file.

Looks like things are just peachy on the good ship European Union. Has anyone pointed out that the ship set sail from Southampton?

So how is the world doing in terms of reducing per capita CO2?

Oooooh. It seems that some countries are not doing as well as others that didn’t ratify Kyoto.

Naturally, when attacking US emissions levels it’s the quantity that counts while when attacking Australian emissions levels it’s all about per capita output.

There is no fixed truth for Big Green.

(Nothing Follows)

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Categories: Climate Change
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