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Cowen stands by as polluters gut EU climate deal

12 Dec 2008

EU abandons leadership and undermines UN climate talks

Friends of the Earth accused Taoiseach Brian Cowen of a "dereliction of duty" as EU leaders at their summit agreed a watered down climate change deal. The final deal is significantly weaker than that proposed by the Commission and Parliament. At the UN talks in Poznan the weak package is seen as yet another sign of a lack of commitment on the part of developed countries.

Friends of the Earth Director, Oisin Coghlan, said

"The European Union has made a pig's ear of the climate and energy package. Brian Cowen stood by while big polluters and special interests gutted the deal. Instead of a flagship policy to provide global leadership this messy compromise leaves the crucial UN talks rudderless. This in an unforgiveable derliction of duty by Europe's leaders."

Friends of the Earth policy officer in Poznan, Molly Walsh said

"The lack of leadership from countries such as the EU has meant that these talks have gone nowhere. Industrialised countires have failed to live up to their histrorical and current responsibilities, by failing to commit to steep, binding emissions targets. To add to that, many developed countries are now trying to put the blame for slow progress at these talks on developing countries."

"While Friends of the Earth welcomes the strong statements made by the Minister for Environment, John Gormley while he was here, what we really want to see is the action at home and in Europe to back this up"

"Special interests and polluting lobby groups weakened the package in Brussels and therefore stalled the talks in Poznan. There are only 12 months left until a final deal has to be done in Copenhagen. This is our last chance to save the climate. Brian Cowen and other European leaders need to realise this and find some courage to stand up to special interests"

The EU deal only commits Europe to a 20% cut in emissions by 2020 when the science indicates 40% is what is needed. Even then countries can buy there way out of half their reduction commitiment and far too many of the pollution permits will be given away to big industry who will pocket a handsome windfall pocket. And proposals to use some of the revenues from selling permits for helping developing countries adapt to climate change were dropped.

Oisin Coghlan, concluded:

"The shocking thing is that the EU is weakening just as the US is getting serious about climate change. It's as if the EU was only interested in leadership on the issue when no one was likely to take up their offer. Now, just as Obama is bringing the US back to the table the EU is backing away. The European Parliament must reject this deal and send the EU leaders back to the drawing board. There is still time, just, to put this right."

Read Molly Walsh's blog from the UN talks in Poznan.

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