Obama and EU unite on climate change draft


US President Barack Obama and EU leaders meeting in Brussels this month are set to throw their combined weight behind tackling climate change, in a show of developed world solidarity on the need for a new global deal, leaked documents suggest.

The guarded, diplomatic language is likely to disappoint environmentalists calling for urgent, ambitious pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"Sustainable economic growth will only be possible if we tackle climate change," a draft communiqué ahead of the EU-US summit on 26 March says. The text is subject to further negotiation between the European Union and the United States.

Both blocs are preparing new pledges on cutting emissions for the first quarter of 2015, ahead of a UN summit in Paris that is meant to agree a new global deal.

Its aim must be to limit any global average temperature increase to less than 2 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels "and should therefore include ambitious mitigation contributions, notably from the world's major economies and other significant emitters," the document says.

Brussels has sought to lead efforts to curb global warming with more ambitious carbon-cutting goals than any other bloc, but some of its member states, notably Poland, say there is no point in Europe taking the lead when it is responsible for little more than 10% of global emissions.

About 40% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the US, the world's second biggest emitter, and China, which tops the pollution table.

Earlier this month, the UN's climate chief, Christiana Figueres, said closer cooperation between Beijing and Washington could boost prospects for a UN deal in 2015.

European environmental campaigners say such a partnership could also marginalise Europe in the debate, and in the race to keep up with technological advances to decarbonise energy.

To prepare its negotiating stance ahead of the 2015 talks, the EU executive, in January proposed 2030 climate and energy goals, including a 40% carbon-cutting target. That compares with a 2020 goal to cut emissions by 20% from 1990 levels, which has almost been achieved.

By contrast, the US has said it will reduce carbon by 17% by 2020 compared with 2005, a fall of just 3.5% below 1990 levels.

Shortly before Obama's visit to Brussels, a summit of EU leaders on 20-21March, will debate 2030 climate and energy policy, but is not expected to reach a firm agreement, due to the blocking Polish vote.

A draft document this week said only that the European Union would submit its contribution at the latest by the first quarter of 2015, suggesting that the EU may not need to reach a political agreement until late this year.

Speaking on 13 March, the EU’s climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, said: "The sooner we have an overall signal, a political signal of what kind of ambition level we are heading for, the easier it will be to elaborate on the details."

  • 20 March 2014: EU Council will discuss climate and energy issues
  • May 2014: New EU Parliament to be elected
  • June 2014: EU Council will discuss energy and climate issues
  • September 2014: UN climate change conference in Lima, Peru
  • 2015: UNFCCC COP Summit in Paris to agree global climate treaty for 2020
  • 2020: New glocal climate treaty planned to come into force
  • 2020: Deadlne for EU to meet binding targets for 20% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, improvements in energy efficiency, and market share for renewable energy
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David Smith's picture

"US President Barack Obama and EU leaders meeting in Brussels this month are set to throw their combined weight behind tackling climate change"

Stop the world, we want to get off! What do these politicos not understand, Climate Change is not something new, it has been going on for the last few billion years - we stand no more chance of 'tackling climate change' as we do attempting to turn back the morning tides of the sea, the best we can do is lean to live and adapt to it, as nature has always done. The original village were I live is now under the sea, this whole coastal strip was under the sea some million or so years back and no doubt in time it will again return to the sea - AGW or no AGW...

"About 40% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the US, the world's second biggest emitter, and China, which tops the pollution table."

Well done the EU and Greens, their mode of operation seems to have been in effect a little NIMBY were pollution is concerned, unfortunately, with the effect that skills, intellectual property, employment and jobs have also gone east out of our own back yards along with the pollution... So why is it OK for China, or any other "developing" economy, to pollute but not the developed economies, after all as pollution has no respect of geopolitical boarders it really shouldn't matter were it is created.

No doubt these proposals will involve more stealth taxation, more restrictions, less personal freedoms, all in the name of Climate Change and saving the planet of course!

Gerry's picture

There will always be a subset of people who once they have made up their minds, will never change them again, irrespective of any evidence to the contrary. For those at the top the situation is somewhat different, as they are compelled to dispense with their opinions when they are found to be in blatant conflict with the evidence. As the true nature of climate change won't show it's face until after mid century, the critics can keep safely announcing their opinions without much danger of having to drastically revoke them. Those who guide us for the decades to come have to take a broader view, all governments have their scientific committees and panels of experts and they all speak with a united voice, as there is a very large body of concrete measurements to consider, and the evidence does not lie, either we act now or we will lose the battle for everyone.

David Smith's picture

@Gerry: The way people like you talk an alien from another Galaxy discovering Earth for the first time would think the world is only a mere mere few hundred years old and we Humans are awaiting the first signs of any climate change! Hell fire and damnation, even the Old Testament talks of biblical floods, droughts and famines, if dramatic "climate Change" was unheard of before the relatively modern world discovered coal and petrochemicals etc. how the heck could such biblical events be imagined, never mind experienced and written about by people who had very limited concepts (never mind zero scientific knowledge) of the world - of course it could all be a load of made up fiction, a bit like all those IPCC reports...

Svetoslava Topouzova's picture

USA and EU should continue the dialog in the Environmental sector after the summit on March 26, 2014. The developed world has a lot to say about the protection of the World and there are many opportunities for giving a chance to well educated professionals, highly involved Citizens and Environmentalist on the both sites of the Atlantic who can make a difference in the Environment. There are many undiscovered capacities in this field for jobs creation.