Letter: Europe fails to give green lead

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The Independent Online
Europe fails to give green lead

Sir: The European Union has not shown the leadership on attacking man- made climate change which your article ("EU to cut global warming gases by tenth", 4 March) suggests. The EU has not pledged to cut emissions by 10 per cent or by any other figure. It has simply agreed a "negotiating position" for the continuing talks on who should cut emissions of which gases by when, in the hope that other developed nations will accept a challenging target. If consensus can be reached, the EU as a whole will reduce total emissions of three key greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4 and N2O) by 15 per cent, by 2010.

While this proposal is important, and may breathe life into the currently deadlocked climate change negotiations, it is flawed. Critically missing from the EU's negotiating position is the essential 2005 interim target year, which is necessary to ensure that industrialised nations take early action to limit greenhouse gas emissions, rather than leaving it all until the last minute in 13 years' time.

The original proposal from the Dutch government (currently holding the EU presidency) proposed cuts in CO2 emissions of 8 per cent by 2005, and 12 per cent by 2010. These sub-targets were eliminated in the EU statement, allegedly at the insistence of the UK's John Gummer.

The EU will now be unable to table a 2005 target, as the next EU Environmental Council meeting is after 3 June. This is the deadline for a protocol proposal to be formally tabled for the Kyoto Climate Summit in December. Given that neither the US nor Japan currently accepts the need for any reductions in greenhouse gas emissions before 2010, and with only 23 negotiating days left, the world is on course to fail to agree the urgent action necessary to prevent dangerous climate change.


Friends of the Earth International

International Climate Negotiations