Commission welcomes Council conclusions on the EU position for the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

European Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas today welcomed the Council conclusions on the EU position for the COP 15 conference to be held in Copenhagen this December.

The Conclusions advance the EU position, which will now be finalised by the European Council at the end of October. Discussions focused on the scale of the long-term (2050) emission reduction objective for the EU, targets to be set for reducing emissions from international aviation and maritime transport, accounting rules for changes in emissions due to land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), and how to tackle a potential surplus of assigned amount units from the Kyoto Protocol’s 2008-2012 commitment period.

Debates were also held on three issues: ship dismantling, the eco-efficient economy, and the proposed recast of two Directives, the Directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), and the Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS).

Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "I am pleased with the progress we have made today, as there is only one negotiating session left before Copenhagen, and it is imperative to step up the speed of exchanges at the political level. Reaching an international agreement is a formidable political challenge, but we are still on the right track. And I repeat that it is more important than ever for the EU to assert its leadership role: our citizens want it, and so do our partners in the rest of the world."

The conclusions agreed today covered a number of outstanding issues.

On the scale of the long-term (2050) emission reduction objective for the EU, the Council agreed on the need to set a long-term target at EU level as such targets have already been accepted in other international fora (G8, MEF). Ministers therefore supported a target of 80-95 per cent by 2050. Ministers also discussed the level of the global targets for the aviation and maritime sectors to be set under the UNFCCC in the Copenhagen agreement. The Council agreed on pursuing global reduction targets for aviation at -10 per cent and -20 per cent for the maritime sector as compared to 2005.

Regarding accounting rules for changes in emissions due to land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) the Commission is pleased to see that the Council could agree on mandatory accounting rules already ahead of the last negotiation session in Barcelona at beginning of November.

On the crucial issue of t ackling a potential surplus of assigned amount units (so-called AAUs) from the Kyoto Protocol’s 2008-2012 commitment period, Member States decided to recognize their implication on the environmental integrity and stressed that further discussions will be needed on possible options to address it..

These Council conclusions will now feed into the European Council to be held in Brussels on 29 and 30 October.

Aviation and shipping will be added to the European Union’s greenhouse gas reduction targets, under a proposal said to have been agreed by the environment ministers. The cuts would be by 10 percent and 20 percent, respectively, over the next decade.

Current EU presiding nation Sweden, at talks in Luxembourg, made clear the bloc’s environmental ambitions remain robust. Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren said: “The EU supports an objective to reduce long term emissions by 80-95 percent by 2050, compared to 1990.”

The proposal on planes and ships will be presented in December at the UN Kyoto replacement talks in Copenhagen.

This came a day after failing to agree on aid to help the world’s poorest countries adapt. Poland leads a group of nine poorer European countries demanding that they receive economic attention before the EU settles on a multi-billion euro aid pledge for the developing world.

This remains to be worked out. German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said: “One of the possibilities would have been to clarify the financial aspect but we did not agree on this.”

Developing countries say they cannot cut carbon dioxide emissions and adapt to changing temperatures without help from the nations which grew powerful by burning fossil fuels and polluting the atmosphere. Greenpeace said EU divisions over spending on this made the “chance of failure in Copenhagen very real”.