Higher EU CO2 cut ‘fundamental’ to developing world

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An increase in the EU’s carbon emissions reduction target to 30% on 1990 levels within eight years is ‘very fundamental’ to the developing world’s interests, said the European chair of the G77 group of developing nations.

Pointing to an EU analysis that was leaked last week, Pa Ousman, who also chairs the Least Developed Countries (LDC) bloc, said that raising the EU’s 2020 target from 20% to 30% would be far cheaper than thought because of the fall in European economic activity.   

“I think that we now have an opportunity for the EU to ensure that a second Kyoto Protocol commitment period is realised,” he told EURACTIV, “because that [issue] was a rallying point for a lot of parties.”

Asked if he would like to see such a move, he replied: “Definitely, it is very fundamental.”

The Durban Climate Change Summit in December agreed an EU-inspired roadmap for negotiations to conclude a global climate treaty with binding emissions reduction targets by 2015. This treaty would come into force no later than 2020.

Should these timetables be missed, hopes could evaporate of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, beyond which its effects could be disastrous and irreversible, experts concur.

Robust compliance

Any deal in 2015 will depend on reaching an international consensus, and this has been rocked by Canada’s decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, a move that Ousman said should inspire reflection about the enforcement of such agreements.

“The compliance regime needs to be more robust,” he said. “It is difficult, because compliance has never been enforced in this multilateral process and it is somehow a bit loose. Hopefully we will put in place a very robust compliance regime post-2020.”

Ousman spoke over the phone from London, where he said he had been “brain-storming with our EU colleagues to see how we can strengthen our collaboration and widen this group for post-Durban decisions.” 

A burgeoning informal alliance between the EU and the developing world bloc, which bore fruit in Durban, has been cultivated over the last year in meetings on the fringes of such international conferences.

“We have very good contacts with the least developed and most vulnerable countries,” the Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told EURACTIV in December.

But she added that “they must realise that without the contributions of the emerging economies, we will simply not be able to get the things done, on the scale and at the speed that we need.” 

Common but differentiated responsibilities

In Durban, the EU’s embrace of a second Kyoto period coupled with the hesitations of some countries in the BASIC group of emerging economies – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – over the exact nature of their ‘Common but Differentiated Responsibilities’ cemented the EU-LDC links.

Europe had demonstrated that it was the world’s “climate leader,” Ousman told EURACTIV, but he cautioned that “the devil will be in the detail” of the upcoming negotiations.

“We are looking forward to the submissions for the quantified emissions reductions objectives of parties,” he said. “That will send us a very clear signal as to how engaged they are.”

Next month, the LDC group will assemble to discuss strategies in Bangladesh, and there will be further meetings in the run-up to the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development on 20 June.

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in December 1997 by the 3rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and opened for signature in March 1998.

The protocol commits industrialised countries to reduce during the period 2008-2012 their collective emission of six greenhouse gases by 5.2% from 1990 levels. Under the protocol, the EU committed to reduce emissions by 8%.

To enter into force, the Protocol had to be ratified by 55 countries, and the developed countries that have ratified must account for at least 55% of 1990 emissions.

  • February 2012: LDC countries meet in Bangladesh
  • 20-22 June 2012: Rio+20 Summit opens
  • 2015:  United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change deadline for agreement of a binding successor to the Kyoto Protocol
  • 2020: UNFCCC deadline for implementation of the successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol

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