EU leaders set to downgrade climate expectations

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EU leaders have definitely given up on the idea that the Copenhagen conference will immediately deliver legally-binding measures to fight climate change and are instead asking for a six-month roadmap to reach a definitive deal after the UN summit, according to draft European Council conclusions seen by EURACTIV.

“The agreement should lead to finalising a legally-binding instrument, preferably within six months after the Copenhagen Conference,” read draft conclusions to be adopted at a summit of EU leaders set to take place in Brussels on 10-11 December. 

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, for his part, reportedly declared yesterday on French TV that there will not be a binding agreement in Copenhagen because many countries are not ready. 

Although it had been known for some time that the deadline for a final binding deal was likely to be delayed, it nevertheless seemed that leaders were heading for a politically-binding agreement setting out the essentials that would form the framework of a deal. 

These included ambitious emission reductions targets for industrialised countries, appropriate mitigation measures by developing countries, significantly scaled-up financial and technological resources and an equitable governance structure to manage the funds.

EU offer ‘conditional’

But the draft conclusions seem to imply even the politically-binding agreement will be vague. The European Council is however firm in recalling that “the Copenhagen agreement should include provisions on immediate action, starting in 2010”. 

The EU’s offer remains “conditional” on commitments tabled by other countries. The Union is ready to move to a 30% reduction by 2020 compared to 1990 levels “provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emission reductions and that developing countries contribute adequately according to their responsibilities and respective capabilities”. 

This means that the EU’s ambitious pledge to upgrade its target from the current 20% emission cuts to 30% is still not a given, as requested by some member states but opposed by others. 

Worldwide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions should have the overall goal of keeping global temperature rises “below the science-based two degree limit for global warming,” EU leaders reiterate in their draft common text. 

“Some parties have not yet presented offers corresponding to this objective. The European Council urges them to do so without further delay,” reads the leaders’ fresh call, to be issued ahead of the high-level segment of the Copenhagen conference. 

‘Fast start’ fincance for developing world

EU financial support to developing countries to help them reach their climate targets has not yet been indicated precisely, reveal the draft conclusions. So-called ‘fast-start’ funding will be available for the years 2010-2012, but the amount in billions of euros to be allocated remains uncertain.

At their summit in October, EU leaders decided that overall funding from rich countries to the developing world in the period 2010-2012 should total €5-7bn annually.

However, converging EU sources suggested that Europe is planning to offer €2bn per year of such fast-track funding. Sweden, which holds the EU presidency until the end of this year, has been trying to coax leaders towards that goal.

“The presidency would like to see around two billion a year, but it’s in the hands of the member states, so we won’t know the result until the summit,” said one EU diplomat, speaking to Reuters. Britain last month pledged 800 million pounds towards that target and France is expected to make a similar pledge this week. Sweden has already promised €765 million from its own coffers.

“Big member states – France, the UK, Germany – will commit to several hundred million each per year,” said an EU diplomat involved in the talks.   

The leaders said the total required to fund emission reductions and adaptation in poor countries must amount to €100 billion per year. EU support should not fall below the bloc’s informally announced commitments, they said, with EU governments keen to urge “developed countries to announce their contributions to such support”. 

The global community is currently engaged in negotiations to agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. 

A political agreement is set to be reached at the Copenhagen climate conference, which started on Monday (7 December), but talks have stalled over developed countries' reluctance to commit to concrete financial aid for developing countries and the lack of a commitment to sufficient CO2 reduction targets. 

On 10 and 11 December, EU heads of state and government will gather in Brussels for their customary December summit. It will be the last summit to be held under the Swedish EU Presidency and the last to be chaired by a rotating president. 

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