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COP18: Europe’s Doha goals

Date
22 November 2012
COP18: Europe’s Doha goals

In the lead-up to COP18 which takes place in Doha, Qatar, from November 26 to December 7, 2012, our international policy teams will be commenting on key regional positions.

Here, Luc Bas, Director of European Programmes and International States and Regions, from our Brussels office, outlines Europe's objectives for the upcoming UN Climate Conference.

Last year’s climate conference in Durban saw some diplomatic success for the EU. The so-called ‘Durban Package’ which was agreed, was more or less the minimum deal that Europe had sought going into the meeting.

In Doha, the EU’s aim is to wrap up the outstanding issues contained in the Durban Package, and consolidate and simplify the ongoing negotiating process.

Like many other countries, Europe’s three basic objectives are to:

  • Adopt an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol that will implement a second commitment period from January 1, 2013.
  • Conclude the parallel Convention track negotiations on ‘Long-term Cooperative Action’. 
  • Start work on a new post-2020 global treaty and the means for raising ambition in the interim period, under the new Durban Platform process. 

Big emitters

To achieve these goals, the EU will require a number of conditions to be met. For example, political support in Europe for a second Kyoto commitment period will require, in part, comparable commitments on emission reductions from the other major emitters.

While the EU recognizes that neither the US nor China will make Kyoto-style commitments in Doha, it will need to see some form of increased action on mitigation from the world’s largest emitters as a sign of good faith.

The EU will also be seeking greater ambition on the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) framework for mitigation action, so that all major emitters use comparable systems.

A deal to restrict the carry-over of unused emission allowances from the first Kyoto commitment period in order to protect and raise the environmental integrity of actions beyond 2012, will also be critical to the EU.

Raising the 2020 target

As with any negotiation, the EU will need to give as well as receive if it wants the outcome it is seeking.

Increasing its 2020 emission reduction target from 20% to 30% is the obvious card it has to play. This is increasingly a painless concession for it to make.

Recent analysis concluded that the EU has already achieved its 20% (including offsets) - eight years ahead of schedule. Adopting the 30% target would make an important political statement in Doha, but could also be wasted if unreciprocated by the likes of the US and China.

In any case Europe needs to become clearer on what it expects from other major emitters to move to 30%.

Finance gap

With the three-year Fast Start Finance set up under the Copenhagen Accord coming to an end, a financing gap has opened up between the needs of developing countries and the availability of funds.

The EU has so far given out €7.1 billion to finance climate mitigation and adaptation efforts in the least advanced countries and so has nearly met its pledge to deliver €7.2 billion. ''Despite severe economic constraints, Europe is delivering", commented climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard.

But a more substantive gesture on climate finance is a key lever that the EU will need to consider.

Political support

However, the ongoing euro-crisis and weak economic growth mean there is far less political support in Europe for new public funding commitments, to make sure climate finance will continue to increase for poor countries after 2012.

Finding a way through this issue is likely to prove one of the EU’s more challenging tasks.

One area that the EU could look to leverage good will is with respect to aviation. On November 12, the EU temporarily suspended its controversial decision to include international aviation in the EU-ETS. This is to allow time for talks at the International Civil Aviation Organisation to agree a global solution on aviation emissions over the coming 12 months.

The move will be welcomed in Doha but it also shows that without new EU pledges, both on longer term finance and further domestic ambition (30%), the EU will be showing up in Doha pretty much empty-handed, as the EU’s position has not fundamentally changed since 2008.

In summary, Doha has the potential to advance the EU’s climate action goals, but success – as always – will depend on a combination of EU leadership and reciprocated action from key partners.

FURTHER READING

Damian Ryan, Senior Policy Manager, The Climate Group, will be writing news and analysis and live-tweeting throughout COP18, and providing a more in-depth post-COP Briefing after the events. Keep up to date on our website and by following him on Twitter during COP18. 

In the run up to and during Doha we are also posting a series of articles featuring analysis from our teams in the US, China, India and Australia on their nations' COP negotiating positions.

Read our pre-COP18 briefing paper now.

Follow a live feed from COP18 below.


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