Commission wants quick follow-up on Copenhagen

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During an informal meeting of European energy and environment ministers in Seville, the European Commission will tomorrow (16 January) call for swift implementation by the EU of the Copenhagen Accord on climate change, urging other countries to follow suit and reach a legally-binding agreement in 2010, EURACTIV has learned.

"We should encourage the largest possible number of countries to subscribe to the Copenhagen accord and invite them to table their own reduction targets or actions as the case may be," reads the Commission non-paper tabled at meeting, obtained by EURACTIV. 

Jump-start EU climate diplomacy

Although the Copenhagen accord fell short of the EU's expectations and was not formally adopted, it does provide the basis on which to work further, said EU sources. 

"The EU should play an active role in strengthening and expanding support for the Accord. Doing so will require an active outreach by the EU, including at bilateral and regional levels, but possibly also through facilitating a meeting of 'Friends of the Accord' during the first quarter of 2010," the paper suggests. 

After the disappointing outcome at Copenhagen, all parties must redouble their efforts to ensure we have a legally-binding UN climate deal by the end of 2010, said Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout. 

"The EU needs to take a much more proactive diplomatic effort to this end, broadening the net of its diplomacy to ensure it does not repeat its mistake of exclusively focusing on one or two players at the expense of others," he added. 

The urgency of implementation is dictated by the fact that the Copenhagen Accord sets an end of January deadline for all nations to submit plans for curbing emissions to the United Nations.

The EU committed to achieving a 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 1990, as called for in its climate and energy package adopted in 2008. 

During the home stretch of the negotiations, the EU said it would be willing to step up efforts and take on a 30% reduction target only if other developed countries commit to comparable emission reductions and economically-advanced developing countries – namely China and India – contribute adequately according to their responsibilities and respective capabilities. 

Conscious that it needs to restore its credibility in international climate policy, the Commission believes "the EU could review/strengthen its commitment notably in the light of the pledges notified by other countries," reads the informal non-paper, stating that an analysis of pledges under the Accord should be carried out "at the appropriate time". 

The EU executive considers that the negotiating texts drawn up within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change talks contain very difficult elements for the EU, sources said. 

Legally-binding agreement a tall order for EU 

It is therefore essential for the EU "to ensure that the next steps in the negotiations, currently planned for May-June in Bonn, integrate and build upon the Copenhagen Accord with a view to reaching a legally-binding agreement in 2010," reads the Commission non-paper. 

Indeed, the Copenhagen Accord does not expressly foresee the conclusion of a legally-binding agreement in 2010. 

"A bold move from the EU would clearly help put global climate policy back on track. The EU's dated 20% emissions pledge clearly no longer cuts it. Europe's environment ministers must immediately end their prevarication and step up the EU's emissions reduction pledge to 30%," said Green MEP Eickhout. 

Fast-start finance

The Commission also proposes immediate action on climate finance agreed in Copenhagen, including fast-start funding (US$ 30 billion) for 2010-2012 and long-term finance (US$ 100 billion per year in 2010). 

"The EU should also, together with the other parties who have associated themselves formally with the Accord, explore how to implement the provisions," reads the text. 

Ministers will also discuss the EU Energy Action Plan for 2010-2014, the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) plan, and sustainability and security of energy supply. 

From 7-18 December 2009, governments from 192 countries meeting in Copenhagen tried to thrash out a sweeping agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, amid growing signals from scientists that global warming is occurring more quickly than expected. 

The document produced at the end is a political accord agreed between a small group of global heads of state and government, which were divided when commenting on the outcome of the negotiations (EURACTIV 19/12/09).

The biggest challenge was to find a way to share global emission reductions between rapidly-developing countries, like China and India, and more industrialised regions, like the US and Europe, which are responsible for the bulk of historical CO2 emissions. 

The Copenhagen accord does not mention a long-term vision on emission reductions for 2050, nor does it include medium-term targets for 2020. 

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