EP Resolution for Copenhagen 

The European Parliament has expressed its views, expectations and suggestions for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in an Own-Initiative Resolution. World leaders have gathered at the conference in Copenhagen, which began on 07 December 2009, to negotiate a new international agreement on climate change for post-2012. 

Background

The Commission outlined its views on the Copenhagen conference in a Communication entitled ‘Stepping up international climate finance: A European blueprint for the Copenhagen deal’, adopted 10 September 2009. This Communication calls for a “binding and ambitious agreement”. The European Council then adopted conclusions on 30 October 2009, which also call for a legally binding agreement that includes commitments on ambitious cuts by all developed countries, mitigation actions by developing countries, adaptation measures and incentives to boost technology and investments in a low carbon economy. The European Parliament Resolution, which was adopted on 25 November 2009, is therefore the third cornerstone to the EU institutions’ position on the Copenhagen Conference.

Aim of the Resolution

The European Parliament follows the same lines as the Commission and the Council in calling for an ambitious legally binding agreement to be reached in Copenhagen. The Resolution urges attendees to the Climate Conference to agree on mandatory mitigation targets and financing for industrialised countries and to set up a process to achieve a comprehensive legally binding agreement in early 2010, to enter into force in 2013. The Parliamentary Resolution expands on these points.

Emissions reduction commitments

The underpinning principle for emissions reductions promoted by Parliament is a “common but differentiated responsibility”.  Industrialised countries should adopt mandatory emissions reduction targets with sanctions at the international level, whereas emerging countries should adopt nationally appropriate reduction targets coupled with technological and financial support from developed countries. In order to ensure that the objective of 2°C global temperature rise above pre-industrial levels is met, Parliament advocates that the EU commits to 40% reduction in emissions and that developing countries reduce the growth of their emissions to 15-30% below “business as usual”, with a differentiated approach proportionate to their level of development. The European Parliament also urges the USA, China and India to adopt binding emissions reduction targets. Parliament also insists that aviation and maritime sectors should be included in any such agreement. 

Financing

As regards financing, Parliament takes the view that a comprehensive agreement in Copenhagen could lead to a “Sustainable New Deal” that would initiate sustainable economic growth based on environmentally sustainable technologies and renewable energies. This switch to a low-carbon economy would increase investment, growth and employment.  To this effect, Parliament calls for necessary funding to secure a successful transition towards a sustainable economy.

Appropriate incentives and investments are also seen as necessary for both industrialised and developing countries. The resolution claims that while developing countries contribute the least to greenhouse gas emissions, they face the most severe consequences. Parliament therefore calls on the EU to provide sustainable and predictable technical and financial support up to €30,000 million per year until 2020 to developing countries to enable them to reach their mitigation targets. The Resolution also says that Member States and the EU should provide capacity-building to help developing countries to adapt to climate change. According to Parliament, adaptation measures inside the EU must also be urgently implemented.

The International Carbon Exchange Market

Parliament also emphasises the need for a comprehensive agreement based on a global carbon market that sets equal efforts to be made by all parties in order to avoid carbon leakage. Carbon leakage happens when a company moves from a country with stringent emissions obligations to another country where carbon emissions are less costly. The Resolution says that this phenomenon could be avoided if all countries had similar obligations. This would create a level-playing field for all parties and preserve the EU’s competitiveness, while moving towards the 30% emissions reduction target. Developing countries would be temporarily excluded from the international emissions trading scheme. On the other hand, Parliament calls on industrialised countries to agree on comparable emissions reduction efforts and to improve the linkage of their emissions trading systems for a greater market size and liquidity and a more efficient allocation of resources.

Land-use changes

As regards land-use changes, Parliament claims that conserving natural carbon sinks is the best way of securing climate change mitigation. Halting deforestation and other harmful land-use changes should also be enshrined in the international agreement.  Deforestation accounts for 20% of global GHG emissions and greatly contributes in biodiversity loss. According to Parliament, public funding is the best tool to combating deforestation. It therefore urges the EU to financially commit to halting deforestation and promoting global non-commercial afforestation. The European Parliament calls on the EU and all parties to the Convention to promote strong standards for the UN programme "Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation" (REDD).