EU agrees on common stance for climate change summit

EU environment ministers met on Tuesday 7 November to prepare for next week’s climate change talks in The Hague

EU environment ministers met on Tuesday 7 November to prepare for next week's climate change talks in The Hague. They agreed on a common strategy for this international debate on the implementation of the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

The Climate Summit or COP6 is taking place from 13-24 November in The Hague. The 1997 Kyoto protocol obliges industrialised countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5 percent of 1990 levels by 2008-2012. Several recent reports have indicated that EU countries are not achieving their reduction targets. Moreover, recents storms in the UK and France have been linked to changes in global weather conditions.

The EU demands that countries achieve most of their emissions reductions through domestic action rather than through trading emissions credits or other "flexible mechanisms". It wants to limit the use of so-called "carbon sinks" (planting new forest as a mechanism to absorb emissions) and it calls for serious sanctions against countries that fail to reach their targets.

The EU will face opposition from the so-called "umbrella group" of Kyoto signatories, including Australia, Japan, the US and Canada. Those countries want the scope of the flexibility mechanisms to be as broad as possible.

In March 2000 the Commission launched the European Climate Change Programme (ECCP) to prepare additional policies and measures, as well as an emissions trading scheme, to ensure that the EU achieves the 8% cut in emissions by 2008-2012 to which it is committed under the Kyoto Protocol.

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