EU Gives Up On UN Climate Negotiations

  • Date: 09/01/10

The EU will pursue a new deal on global warming through the G20, after last month’s UN climate conference led to unwieldy negotiations that did not accomplish much.

New EU president Herman van Rompuy said that halting global warming remains a key target for Europe, whose proposal for ambitious pollution cuts by 2020 found no takers at the December climate conference of 200 nations in Copenhagen.

Mr Van Rompuy said: “The European Union must continue to be the driving force of the global climate change debate,” and EU leaders will meet on February 11 to discuss where to go next.

Mr Van Rompuy spoke in Madrid, where he was meeting with the bloc’s two other top executives, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who is assuming the rotating EU presidency, and Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission chief.

“We need to change our negotiating strategy,” Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Miguel Angel Moratinos said. He did not elaborate, but Spanish officials said the EU is keen to pursue a climate deal through the G20, rather than the United Nations.

A senior EU official also said such a summit could produce a meaningful agreement, without having heads of state meet through the night to bicker over the wording of such a deal, as they did in Copenhagen.

The Group of 20 is an international body that meets to discuss economic issues, and its members – 19 countries with some of the world’s biggest industrial and emerging economies, plus the European Union – represent about 90% of the world’s gross national product, 80% of world trade and two-thirds of the global population.

During the two-week negotiating marathon in Copenhagen, the 193-nation UN conference on climate change ignored European pleas for robust pollution cuts.

Instead, an agreement brokered by US President Barack Obama with China and a handful of emerging economies sets up the first significant program of climate aid to poorer nations. It urges deeper cuts in emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming, but does nothing to demand them. That will now be subject to continuing UN talks later this year in Mexico City.

Van Rompuy said globalization is crafting a new world order. “There is an awareness that after Copenhagen things have changed. The balance of power has shifted,” he said.

Press Association, 9 January 2010

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