More ambition needed in Durban, says EU

13th October 2011

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Global commitments to tackling climate change must go further than simply extending the Kyoto Protocol if temperature increases are to be halted at 2°C, the EU environment council has warned.

In a statement published ahead of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Durban next month, the council calls on both developing and developed countries to agree to a new legally-binding framework with greenhouse-gas (GHG) reduction targets that go beyond those of agreed in Kyoto in 1997.

“A second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol is unlikely to cover more than 16% of global emissions… this is insufficient to keep the increase of global temperature below 2°C compared to the pre-industrial level,” says the statement.

While the council states that an extension to commitments under Kyoto could work in a transition period to a new protocol, this should not go on past 2020.

According to the council, government leaders must agree approaches to cutting emissions from international aviation and marine transport, agriculture and the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which it says were not adequately covered by the agreements made in Canćun last year.

The new global commitments should include more robust accounting methods with regards land-use, land-use change and forestry; an approach to tackle a surplus of Kyoto carbon credits, and the development of market- and sector-based mechanisms to cut emissions globally.

The statement stresses the need for all nations to commit to more ambitious targets, but for any agreed framework to allow for flexibility, so the individual financial and operational capabilities of each country can be taken into consideration.

Citing the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the council argues that developed countries need to reduce GHG emissions by 25%-40% on 1990 levels by 2020, and reaffirmed the EU council’s offer to move the EC’s 2020 reduction targets from 20% to 30%, “provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emission reductions”.

The statement concludes by highlighting the importance of creating global policy to tackling emissions, particularly within transport, to ensure “a level playing field… that does not lead to competitive distortions or carbon leakage”.

The statement was published alongside a similar document looking forward to the UN conference on sustainable development in Rio next year. In it the council stresses the importance of moving towards low-carbon economies to tackle the issues of poverty and resource efficiency.

“The transition towards a green economy holds strong potential to promote long-term sustainable growth, create jobs and hence eradicate poverty,” it states.

“Rio+20 should in particular promote global cooperative action in key sectors such as water, food and agriculture, energy and chemicals, as well as in areas related to the sustainable management and restoration of natural resources and ecosystem services.”


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