Only a few hours before US President Barack Obama addressed the world with his Climate Action Plan, a debate promoted by MEP Vittorio Prodi on the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw in November took place at the European Parliament on 25 June 2013. A distinguished group of MEPs, EU and Presidency officials, representatives from USA, China, and Brazil, businesses, IUCN and UNEP sent a call for a clear move forward on an ambitious international agreement.
In his introductory remarks, Artur Runge Metzger, Director at DG CLIMA, recalled that there are 194 actors involved in the climate negotiations, which is what makes these talks slow and cumbersome. “So far the pledges made by the 194 parties are not sufficient to keep temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century,” he said. The EU should be able to come to the negotiation table in 18 months with an ambitious offer, but other groups will have to do the same. “Warsaw is a time when we could look into each other’s eyes and make a commitment to send an important signal to the world that this is a problem we are taking seriously,” he held.
The forthcoming Lithuanian Presidency, which will be leading the preparations of the EU position in Warsaw, called for a “clear roadmap towards 2015 global and legally binding agreement and substantive progress on raising pre-2020 ambitions,” said Ambassador Arūnas Vinčiūnas.
Chris Vanden Bilcke, Head of UNEP Liaison office to the EU, highlighted the many complementary actions on climate change, besides the work under the UNFCCC, and he explained, in that context, inter alia the Clean Air and Climate Coalition. He underscored the need to avoid basic black and white analyses in the media on the possible success and failure of UNFCCC CoP19 negotiations, often seen as sole indicator of progress. He pointed to the importance of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on Climate Diplomacy of 24 June. “The success of these negotiations will depend on each country’s ability to come up with early action plans, as the costs of late action will be unsustainable,” he stated.
“Climate change is also an economic issue,” stressed MEP Matthias Groote, Chair of the ENVI Committee: “We need to involve all stakeholders, environmentalists, the industry, and the financial sector alike to find the right solutions.” Mr. Groote warned about the risks of dividing the industry and claimed that “we need a strong industry and supply chain in the EU.” MEP Groote called for longer-term strategies and said that ITRE and ENVI committees would be working together to define targets up to 2030.
The representative of the Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the EU Mr. Zhang Lirong held that the aim of the climate negotiations is to further enhance the implementation of the UNFCCC. The future agreement should follow the principles of the UNFCCC, in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), and take into consideration both the historical responsibilities of the developed countries and the needs for sustainable development of developing countries in a fair manner. “China is ready to continue to play an active and constructive role in the global efforts against climate change,” he said.
Mr. Dale Eppler from the US Mission to the EU suggested that success in climate talks could be achieved if some flexibility is given to countries to use different metrics to calculate their contributions to the fight against climate change. “Parties should be able to define their own mitigation contributions according to their situations: if we promote an agreement that is applicable to all parties, there will be more chances that countries will implement what they have developed according to their interests,” he said.
On the other hand, Mr. André Carvalho from the Mission of the Federative Republic of Brazil to the EU said: “The challenge now is to consider what we are already delivering and what we still need to deliver since Durban.” In this light, he called for increased financing for technical innovation and enhanced technology transfer for developing countries to implement the proposed actions.
Luc Bas, Director of IUCN EU Representative Office, mentioned the hybrid government-non-government constituency of IUCN as being at the intersection of the both needed bottom up and top down approach to reach the emission reductions needed for a 2°c limit. Non- Party actors such as the State of São Paulo and the Province of Quebec are great examples of sub national governments taking concrete actions and raising their ambition regardless of national action. He emphasized the need for the EU to set clear and ambitious targets up to 2030 to allow longer term planning and secure more clean energy investments however the current discussion thereof seems to distract from the EU target for 2020. With 20% GHG-emission reductions already achieved it is clear that the EU must enter the international negotiations with more ambition at home.
Finally, Alessandro Profili, Vice-Chair of AmCham EU, and Bruno Pedrotti, BusinessEurope, also emphasised the need to further involve the industry in the talks and to maintain competitiveness of the industry while going through this essential societal transition. They both called for realism about what is feasible and insisted on the need to set clear and common targets to all sectors.
In his concluding remarks, MEP Vittorio Prodi made an appeal to climate negotiators to rapidly find a way to consensually manage increasing interdependency and pointed to the necessity to change the way we think about the concept of sovereignty. “We can’t wait anymore: the world needs an agreement urgently,” were his concluding words.
The conference “Towards a more ambitious agreement on emissions reduction at UNFCCC CoP19?” chaired by MEP Vittorio Prodi took place on 25 June 2013. This meeting was organised by the Secretariat of the European Parliament Intergroup on “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development” run jointly by the European Bureau for Conservation and Development (EBCD) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).