Tue, Dec 06, 2011 - Page 9 News List

EU sees obstacles from US, China to climate road map

China believes that it is not yet time for a climate road map and that greenhouse gas limits should be delayed until the UN completes its review of the climate science

By Alex Morales  /  Bloomberg

The EU says that the world’s top three polluting nations are the biggest obstacles to establishing a time-line for a legally binding agreement on global warming and it won’t “cave in” on its demands.

China, the US and India seem the most reluctant to sign up to the EU’s road map pointing toward the next climate treaty after the limits in the current one expire next year, said Artur Runge-Metzger, the EU’s lead envoy on the environment said.

“The biggest barriers are the major emitters when it comes to the road map,” Runge-Metzger said yesterday in an interview at UN talks in Durban, South Africa. “Legally binding is a red line. It’s absolutely essential to get that road map.”

The fate of the EU’s time-line is the key toward preserving the Kyoto Protocol, which restricts fossil fuel emissions through next year. China, India and Brazil say extending that treaty is essential to keeping the international system of rules on climate change. Japan, Russia and Canada refuse to sign up for new commitments under Kyoto. The US never adopted the treaty.

The EU is part of a coalition of ambition seeking a time-line at the talks, said Kelly Dent, chief climate policy adviser for the development charity Oxfam, noting support for the proposal from African and island-nations and the bloc of least developed countries.

“If India, China or Brazil joined them, it would put enormous pressure on the others and the US,” Dent said. “We can’t have the Kyoto Protocol die on African soil.”

The EU wants the largest emitters to agree by 2015 on a binding agreement to be enacted in 2020 at the latest, and has offered in exchange an extension to the carbon-reduction goals under Kyoto. That would require China and other developing nations whose emissions weren’t capped under Kyoto to accept mandatory targets.

“In these negotiations little words can make an enormous difference, so we have to see what Brazil can be comfortable with,” Brazilian delegation chief Andre Correa do Lago told reporters on Thursday in Durban, when asked about the EU road map. “If it works towards strengthening the convention, the flexibility on words can be there on both sides.”

Debate over Kyoto is the biggest political source of friction at the talks this year and nearly derailed last year’s agreement in Cancun, Mexico. The envoys are also debating a package of technical measures that would advance the fight against global warming, including details about how a Green Climate Fund would work, channeling as much as US$100 billion a year to developing nations by 2020.

The US joined Saudi Arabia and Venezuela in raising concerns about the fund, forcing the UN to undertake informal consultations to find a resolution. Envoys had hoped to endorse the proposal this week.

The EU comments indicate little room for flexibility over the road map plan. The EU has done the most to trim carbon emissions since the agreement was negotiated in 1997, and its support for the measure is important for Kyoto’s preservation.

“There must be a clear understanding that the result of this road map is going to bind all countries,” Runge-Metzger said.

The EU will not cave in on its request, he said, adding that the Kyoto treaty is insufficient as it stands.

“The Kyoto Protocol with 11, 12, 13, 14 percent of emissions is just not going to win the fight against climate change,” he said.

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