EU raises the pressure on COP 20 conference

The 20th UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change began in Lima on 1 December. [UNclimatechange/Flickr]

As the UN Climate Conference got under way in Lima last week, the EU set out its stall with an ambitious call for “quantifiable and comparable” national commitments on the reduction of CO2 emissions; a position refuted by some developing countries, who see the odds stacked against them. EURACTIV France reports

Three days into the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Lima, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Canete, stated the European Union’s ambition to obtain “transparent, quantifiable and comparable” objectives on the reduction of CO2 emissions.

The countdown has begun

The Commission’s representative in Lima, Elina Bardram, had already presented these objectives during a press conference on 1 December, specifying that the EU hoped to take part in the drawing-up of legally binding objectives that would be adopted in Paris in 2015.

>> Read: G20 makes progress on climate change

Commissioner Canete supported this position, saying “the countdown to Paris has begun. Lima is full of optimism, and I am confident that Peru will complete this task successfully”.

The Conference of the Parties on Climate Change will continue until 12 December in Lima, where the representatives of the 196 participant countries have the task of establishing the foundations of a new climate agreement, to come into force after the end of the Kyoto Protocol.

A binding agreement for all countries

“We need an agreement that is both binding and flexible, to take into account the geopolitical situation,” the Commissioner said. He added that the EU wanted “all countries and all the largest emitters of CO2” to take part in the preparation of the agreement.

The COP 21, to be held in Paris in 2015, will be the last chance to enforce measures to limit the global temperature rise to +2°C by 2050.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global CO2 emissions will have to be cut to zero by 2100, if global warming is to be kept from spiralling out of control.

An unpopular ‘non-paper’

The EU has already presented a proposal text for a climate agreement, or “non-paper”, which has caused disagreement among some of the participants of the conference.

“The EU has been very active in pushing forward the negotiations in Lima.

In October, Europe agreed on the objective of a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030,” the Commissioner added, saying that the EU could set its own commitments for the COP 21 agreement in the first trimester of 2015.

>> Read: Rajendra Pachauri welcomes EU climate goals

“We hope this will encourage others to follow suit,” Cañete said. The United States committed to do so this week, at a meeting of the EU-US Energy Council in Brussels.

EU ‘prepared to help developing countries’

Miguel Arias Cañete also raised the sensitive subject of how developing countries might finance their efforts to adapt to climate change. Certain developing countries have already expressed their disapproval of the EU’s proposed text.

Several African countries have criticised the text as “unbalanced”. They say it fails to place the poorer countries on an equal footing with the richer countries, and that their wishes were under-represented.

Fairness is likely to be an important factor in the successful conclusion of any agreement, and many developing countries hope to receive aid in the form of funds and technology to help tam reach their goals.

>> Read: Summit prompts modest donations to climate fund

Cañete offered reassurance that the EU would be “prepared to help developing countries”, citing the European contributions to the Green Climate Fund, which currently amount to 4.6 billion dollars, more than half the Fund’s total of 9.7 billion.

European Parliament forms a ‘Paris alliance’

The Commissioner will go to Lima for the end of the conference, along with a delegation of 12 MEPs; a “Paris alliance” that hopes to gain support for a legally binding agreement and to guarantee the success of the negotiations.

The Spanish Commissioner said “We have 12 months. This is not a lot, but together we should make it.”

Negotiations on climate change began in 1992, and the UN organises an annual international climate change conference called the Conference of the Parties, or COP.

The 20th COP is taking place in Lima, Peru, from 1 to 12 December 2014, and Paris is hosting the 21st conference in December 2015.


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