Monday, April 06, 2009

European Union Outlines Ambitious Vision For Copenhagen

Apr 6: In a speech at a seminar on climate change, House of Europe in Stockholm, Stavros Dimas the European Union Environmental Commissioner outlined what he called the European Union's "comprehensive vision for the Copenhagen agreement." He summarized the vision's seven points as follows:

"Firstly, it has long been the EU's objective to limit average global warming to less than 2°C above the temperature in pre-industrial times. 2°C is widely considered the 'tipping point' beyond which irreversible and potentially catastrophic environmental changes will become far more likely. This translates into less than 1.2°C above the temperature today, so the window of opportunity for staying within this limit is closing fast. . . the world will need to cut global emissions to at least 50% below 1990 levels by 2050. Developed countries will have to go further, with cuts of 80-95%, to leave room for developing countries to lift themselves out of poverty. . .we will need to stabilize them before 2020. . .

"[2] Developed countries have a moral obligation and an historic responsibility to lead the way in cutting emissions, and the resources to do so. The science tells us that they need to reduce their collective emissions to 30% below 1990 levels by 2020. . .

"[3] . . .it is essential that the developing world takes appropriate action to contain its emissions growth. The latest science indicates that to keep within the 2°C temperature limit, developing country emissions will need to be some 15 to 30% below business as usual levels in 2020. Central to our proposals for developing countries are low-carbon development strategies which would cover all key emitting sectors while encouraging further economic growth. Developing countries would draw up these strategies setting out what they intend to do to mitigate emissions and identifying the actions for which they would need external financial and technological assistance. A mechanism to be established under the Climate Convention would then assess the adequacy of these actions and match up the identified needs with the necessary support.

"[4] . . .tropical deforestation accounts for around 20% of global emissions, the Copenhagen agreement must create incentives to at least halve tropical deforestation by 2020 and halt global forest cover loss by 2030. Furthermore, it must set targets for reducing emissions from international aviation and shipping. Both of these sectors are large and growing emission sources which have so far been excluded from international emission reduction commitments.

"[5] . . .adaptation to climate change is of crucial importance, particularly for vulnerable developing countries, and must be comprehensively addressed in Copenhagen. . . the EU has proposed a framework for adaptation action which has found wide support. . . Although the paper predominantly covers the EU it points to the importance of continuing efforts to facilitate adaptation in third countries especially in neighboring and the most vulnerable developing countries.

"[6] . . .can be summarized as 'no money, no deal'. It is absolutely clear that the developed world will have to substantially scale up financial, technological and capacity building support to help developing countries cope with the challenges of both mitigation and adaptation. The EU is committed to taking on its fair share of this financing, which we believe must come from a mix of public and private sources at bilateral and multilateral level, including an expanded international carbon market. . .

"[7] . . .the importance of expanding the international carbon market. This is an essential tool for achieving the deep emission cuts needed in the most cost-effective way. The carbon market can also be a major source of the additional financing needed. Member States have agreed that at least 50% of revenues from the auctioning of emission allowances in the EU should be used to combat climate change, both at home and abroad. Our vision is to build an OECD-wide carbon market by 2015 by linking the EU emissions trading system with compatible cap-and-trade systems being set up in other industrialized countries. The moves underway to introduce a U.S. federal cap-and-trade system, point to the real possibility that a transatlantic carbon market could be in place from around 2012, and this is enormously encouraging."

Dimas also indicated what could be an additional point saying, "We also want to see the Clean Development Mechanism reformed, and in the case of highly competitive sectors in advanced developing countries the need for a sectoral crediting mechanism that generates credits once a whole sector does better than an agreed emissions benchmark. This sectoral crediting mechanism should be a stepping stone to the introduction of cap-and-trade systems in the big emerging economies from 2020."

He indicated, "leadership by Europe alone is not enough. We need shared leadership by the developed world as a whole if we are to carry developing countries along with us. President Obama’s commitment to take international leadership on climate change, and the speech by his special climate envoy Todd Stern at the start of the negotiations now under way in Bonn, signal an immensely encouraging shift in America’s position. So does last week's proposal by Congressmen Waxman and Markey for a climate and energy bill, including a federal cap-and-trade system. Now we need to see how this will be reflected in the US negotiating positions. Clearly, we also want to see other developed countries rallying to this constructive attitude - particularly those that have hidden behind U.S. reticence until now."

Access the complete statement by Commissioner Dimas (
click here). Access a lengthy Q&A release and link to the complete EU white paper on a framework for adaptation (click here). [*Climate]