EU pushes for progress at Mexico's climate talks


THE EU is pressing for progress to be made at the latest round of UN climate talks in Cancún, Mexico, with a view to concluding a legally binding agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol – due to expire at the end of 2012.

Climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard said yesterday that the EU “is ready to agree on an ambitious global climate framework in Cancún but regrettably some other major economies are not” – a reference to the US, China and Japan.

“It is crucial that Cancún delivers progress, otherwise the UN climate change process risks losing momentum and relevance, and so far no one has been able to point to an alternative forum that can deliver more,” the former Danish energy minister warned.

Noting that last December’s Copenhagen Accord had recognised the need to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2 degrees, relative to pre-industrial levels, Ms Hedegaard said that here was also a need for “urgent action on the ground”.

She said that the EU, as the world’s leading aid donor, would give a full report in Cancún on its delivery of “fast start” funding to support developing countries’ efforts to deal with climate change. This year alone, it had “mobilised” €2.2 billion in such funding.

For the EU, the ultimate objective of the UN process must be to establish an ambitious, comprehensive and legally binding global framework – incorporating key elements of Kyoto – that engages all countries in combating climate change.

But Japan’s announcement that it would not sign up to a “second commitment period” under the protocol was criticised by Oxfam, which said it “risks cutting one of the world’s lifelines in the fight against climate change”, especially for poorer people.

The EU is willing to consider a second Kyoto commitment period – but on condition that it formed part of a wider global agreement which engages all major economies in climate action and that the “environmental integrity” of the protocol is improved.

For the EU, Cancún needs to become a “significant step” in this direction and, by agreeing on a funding package, it “should also make it possible to launch immediate action on the ground to combat climate change, especially in developing countries”.

Meanwhile, observers have demanded that the “secretive process used by the Danish government” at Copenhagen, which they blamed for its failure, must not be repeated in Cancún.