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Europe must change tack to save UN climate talks in Montreal

6 Dec 2005

Friends of the Earth has written to European environment ministers in advance of their arrival in Montreal calling on them to rethink the EU's negotiating strategy. The current approach risks the climate talks drifting into a dead end.

Minister Dick Roche, who has delayed his departure for Montreal until after the budget, received the letter on Tuesday afternon.

Oisin Coghlan, Friends of the Earth Director in Ireland, said

"The EU's Environment Ministers must not forget that Europe has sent them to Montreal to secure a robust framework for negotiations to win the battle against global climate change. Their negotiators, who have been in Montreal for more than a week now, have instead prioritised an agreement that is acceptable to the Bush Administration. But the US negotiators have made clear they will water any deal down to voluntary action or nothing, making it worth less than the paper it's written on."

The US cannot be allowed a veto on the outcome of the negotiations. Too much is at stake. The Kyoto Protocol, to which the US is not a party, provides a mechanism for the rest of the world to move forward. The EU must push for the start of negotiations to agree new targets by 2008 for deeper emission cuts by industrialised countries. Business is looking for such certainty in order to be able to plan ahead in good time. If no agreement is reached in Montreal on a timeline and a deadline for negotiations then the whole process may begin to unravel.

Mr Coghlan continued:

"The choice is pretty clear. We can have an agreement that the US will join now but it won't be adequate to prevent dangerous climate change. Or we can have a robust agreement that gives the world hope which the US can join at any time in the future. And Friends of the Earth believes that the increasing pressure inside the US to reap the economic, environmental and social benefits of progressive action will mean that Bush's successor will sign up in time."

NOTES

[1] From 28 November to 9 December, world governments meet in Montreal for the first meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (MOP) as well as the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention (COP). The high level ministerial segment will start on Wednesday, 7th December. Click here for more.

[2] Click here for Friends of the Earth's detailed position paper on the Montreal climate negotiations.

[3] If a decision was agreed under the Kyoto Protocol from 1997, rather
than the Convention from 1992, the US would not be able to block it as
it is not a Party to the Protocol. Also, the Kyoto Protocol provides a
much miore robust framework for discussing the future of the climate
regime, other than the Convention that focuses on voluntary measures
only.

[4] Not the whole country agrees with the US Administration. For
example, the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement unites more than
180 mayors representing nearly 40 million Americans, demanding action
on the federal level; California, the fifth largest economy in the
World, aims at an 80 per cent reduction from 1990 levels by 2050. Nine
States aim at cutting back their emissions to 2000 levels. With a keen
eye on the emissions trading market and the growing demand for clean
energy technologies, many US businesses would like to see the US re-
join the climate regime sooner rather than later.

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