EU not ready to move on climate before US, China

LONDON - The European Union will not harden its existing, carbon emissions pledge into a binding, UN decision unless the United States and China do likewise, an unlikely prospect, its chief negotiator said.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Fri 19 Nov 2010, 12:29 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:44 AM

Environment ministers from nearly 200 countries will gather in Cancun, Mexico, at a Nov. 29-Dec. 10 conference to try and thrash out details of a global climate deal expected to be finalised in December 2011.

Senior officials at the UN body which oversees the talks say a top priority for the Cancun session is for developed countries to “formalise” their existing emissions pledges, for example in a UN decision.

When asked if the EU would only do that if the United States followed suit, the EU’s top negotiator Artur Runge-Metzger said: “I think at the moment the position is we would expect that.”

“Of course when ministers see the deal on the table they might have a second look at it. You can only judge in the context of the overall deal,” he told Reuters.

The Cancun talks follow a disappointing summit in Copenhagen last year which failed to agree a successor to the present round of the Kyoto Protocol, which ends in 2012.

But more than 120 countries signed a Copenhagen Accord which included emissions pledges by rich and developing countries.

The EU has agreed a goal to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels.

President Barack Obama said in Copenhagen he wanted to cut US emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, equivalent to 3-4 percent below 1990 levels.

The Senate did not pass the cut, however, and meanwhile mid-term US elections earlier this month saw big Republican wins, killing any chances of passing broad US climate change legislation and raising questions whether the United States can still stand behind the target.

“I think they need to re-affirm the pledge they have taken under the Copenhagen Accord. That is something people would be looking forward to,” said Runge-Metzger.

He added developing countries should also “firm up” their targets if they wanted the EU to do the same.

“They have made pledges under the Copenhagen Accord but these are of a political nature. The question is how far they can firm up those. That would then maybe make it possible to see some movement on the Kyoto side,” he said referring to countries including the EU which face cuts under Kyoto.

The United States never ratified Kyoto and developing country emissions are not bound by the pact.

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