Copenaghen examines the EU

An analysis on April's issue of Études

A study on EU’s position at the UN climate summit (Copenhagen December 7-18, 2009) revealed “the substantial inadequacy and uncertain procedural implementation”, inability to tackle “the urgency and broad impact of climate change”, and laid down indications on future steps. The proposal was voiced by Emmanuel Guérin, coordinator of the climate change program of ‘Institut du développement durable et des relations internationales (Iddri), in Paris, and published on April’s issue of Études, the French Jesuit magazine on contemporary culture. Here are some abstracts. An Insufficient and uncertain Accord. The decision taken at the Copenhagen summit on “the long-term aim to keep global warming below 2°C” Guèrin explains, is substantially not achievable since it does not provide sufficient means to fulfil it”. Furthermore “country-specific goals result in a 3°C warming above the pre-industrial temperature”. This agreement is neither a simple political declaration nor a legally binding agreement” but rather “the eleventh hour attempt by a handful of State leaders after a two-week stalemate in negotiations”. The agreement also entails “serious procedural problems in 2010” since “it doesn’t point out whether it is a basic negotiation or must be readjusted in the two-tracked UN negotiations (under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change or the Kyoto Protocol)”. Apart from these issues, Guèrin points out, that the Copenhagen accord “reveals the current limits in international cooperation”.EU’s weak international stand. What was the EU’s role in Copenhagen? Among the developed countries, Guèrin notes “EU was closer to the Kyoto model due to its legislation on emission reduction, -20% by 2020 from 1990 levels”. Furthermore “the EU defended more than other countries on a certain international cooperation: the carbon market (green gas emission trade) and flexible mechanisms”. For the expert “this sophisticated view of cooperation is based on the principle of efficacy and equity”. However, the EU “played a minor role in the negotiations. During the Summit preparation phase the EU was strongly involved in setting ambitious goals. At the beginning, the EU was the only one to back the 2° C temperature limit that was later subscribed by other countries”. However “it was not able to influence the final agreement. Definitely penalized by its need to reach an agreement, like in the Kyoto Protocol, the EU is among the disadvantaged countries negotiating “from the bottom”. According to the expert, “EU’s weak international stand could be due to its poor use of sovereignty language”. There are other reasons as well: “Even if it showed strong cohesion in 2008 in adopting the energy and climate package, in 2009 it revealed gaps in funding issues and passing from 20 to 30% emission cuts by 2020. Leadership and true transformation. “Apart from world governance tensions, international cooperation falters due to domestic policies, that are still at an infant stage,” Guèrin highlighted. Even if the importance of climate change and the need for action is widely acknowledged, emission reduction policies are still at an initial phase”. Specifically, “governments fear high costs and less benefits from international cooperation”. “The EU is far from the announced third industrial revolution. Notwithstanding the truly innovative cap and trade approach that produces effective emission cuts, no effort has been taken on energy-efficiency, or at least not enough”, while “the use of flexibility mechanisms, for cost monitoring, ” reduces “Europe’s broad transformation”. For Guèrin, re-launch plans “to tackle the financial and economic downturn have not shown the EU’s resolute commitment to a carbon free economy”. “Leadership by example” the EU’s is so proud of cannot make do with the announcement of high emission cuts: it must be backed by a true transformation. This is what developing countries and especially emerging countries ask for: the proof we can decarbonize the economy”.

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