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EU Environment Ministers challenged to do more on climate change

17 Oct 2005

LUXEMBOURG/BRUSSELS, 17 OCTOBER 2005 -- As EU Environment Ministers agreed their approach to UN climate negotiations taking place next month in Montreal, Canada, Friends of the Earth warned that the EU's weak stance is endangering the international leadership previously demonstrated by the EU on climate change.

Jan Kowalzig, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said:

"We had hoped for a much better outcome of today's meeting, given that warnings about the terrible impacts of climate change are growing louder every day. The ministers had grand words to illustrate the current climate crisis and the urgency to act, but failed to turn it into an ambitious action agenda for the global climate talks in Montreal."

"The European Union cannot afford to give up its leadership role, if it aims to limit the economic, environmental and human costs of global climate change. Europe should make clear in Montreal, that a new phase of commitments must be negotiated until 2007 or 2008 latest and result in deeper, absolute and mandatory emission cuts by industrialised
countries."

Friends of the Earth Europe in particular criticises that ministers failed to agree a date by which the EU would aim to finalise international negotiations, given the urgency of the issue and the time needed for implementation on the domestic level. Also, from an earlier draft, a text on mid- and long-term targets for emission reductions by industrialised countries has been deleted and replaced by a mere reference to earlier agreements. On the positive side, Friends of the Earth welcomed the reiteration of the EU's target to keep the global average temperature increase below 2°C.

When Ministers arrived for their meeting, they were welcomed by a 100m long wall of "climate messages", painted by thousands of citizens across Europe, demanding that the EU must take the climate crisis much more seriously. UK Environment Minister Elliot Morley received a stack of such painted climate messages, one for each EU Environment Minister.

Read more about the Friends of the Earth action and see pictures here.

Click here to download the Friends of the Earth media and background briefing for Monday's Council of Ministers meeting.

Read the official Conclusions of the ministers' meeting here.

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