President. – The next item is the debate on the oral questions to the Council and the Commission respectively, by Jo Leinen, on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, on the climate change conference in Durban (O-000216/2011 - B7-0639/2011), (O-000217/2011 - B7-0640/2011).
In view of the fact that the Durban conference will be held in just a few weeks, the debate on these questions would seem to be particularly important. In accordance with the priorities of the European Parliament and the European Union, this is one of our most important issues, and even at a time of economic difficulties and crisis, we do not want it to disappear from the agenda – we want it to continue to be important and we want to be aware of our objectives in Durban.
Jo Leinen, author. – (DE) Mr President, Ms Maćkowiak-Pandera, Ms Hedegaard, ladies and gentlemen, this week, the European Parliament is submitting a resolution which includes comprehensive proposals on combating global climate change. Mr President, I know that you are committed to overcoming climate change and it would, of course, be good if you could come with the parliamentary delegation to Durban. However, I understand the constraints you are under here in the House with regard to the 2012 budget. Nevertheless, a strong delegation will be going to Durban ready to exert pressure and to use its lobbying skills, so that the process of combating climate change does not come to a halt and so that we can continue to make progress.
I would like to thank the sponsors from the five groups who have drawn up this resolution. There was a broad consensus in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety about what should now be done and we had the support of the Committee on Development and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. Parliament has clear ideas about what we need to achieve in the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
We have no time to lose. The extreme weather events in 2011 alone and the melting of the glaciers and icebergs show that climate change is well under way. This is why we need to make substantial progress at the COP 17. Parliament’s goal remains the same: a legally binding instrument for all states in the UNFCCC or a global climate agreement, if you want to call it that. We will not be able to achieve this in Durban, but we need to establish further milestones on the road to a global climate agreement. This is primarily about meeting the promises and the undertakings which were made last year in Cancún. I will only mention the mechanism for technology transfer from rich northern countries to poorer southern ones and the institutions which will put in place the necessary measures to allow us to adapt to climate change.
However, there are other open issues which we can hopefully resolve in Durban. One of these concerns closing the gigatonne gap. In Cancún, everyone agreed that we want to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius, but the commitments that are already on the table are not sufficient. We will end up with an increase of 3.5 or 4 degrees Celsius, which is much too much, as we all know. Therefore, we need to understand how the gigatonne gap can be closed on the basis of common but differing responsibilities for stabilising the earth’s atmosphere.
We in Parliament are of the opinion that greenhouse gas emissions will peak in 2015 and this is a very ambitious goal. However, the scientists are telling us that we have to reach this point during this decade. We know that by 2050, we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by around 50%, which is a huge task.
In Durban, the focus is likely to be on the Kyoto Protocol. We must prevent a gap from occurring between the first commitment period and a further second commitment period. Therefore, we need a solution for the period after 2012 and Parliament is calling on the EU to give its clear support to a second commitment period. We know that we do not have many partners, but they include Switzerland and Norway, together with Australia and New Zealand. I believe that with effective climate change diplomacy, we can achieve a critical mass which will make it worthwhile to implement Kyoto II and, at the same time and most importantly, to force the emerging countries and also the USA to commit to a timetable involving everyone. The idea is that we will succeed in implementing an overarching climate agreement in 2015.
I would like to mention an issue that we are all aware of: the funding for combating global climate change. We hope that we can establish a Green Climate Fund in Durban, but we need to know who will manage it, who can become a member, how it will work and where the funding will come from. Parliament has made a number of suggestions including the income from emissions trading, taxes on aviation and shipping and the financial transaction tax, if it is imposed.
I shall be brief. We must not use the economic crisis as an excuse for doing nothing. The message that comes out of Durban must make it clear that we cannot allow climate change to overcome the human race. Instead, the human race must have the determination to overcome climate change. That is the message that the European Parliament is taking to South Africa.
Joanna Maćkowiak-Pandera, President-in-Office of the Council. – (PL) Mr President, thank you very much for your welcome. There are not quite two weeks left before the climate summit in Durban. This year, the conference is playing a particular role in terms of measures for climate protection, and Poland, as the country which holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, is treating this matter very seriously. We know that in 2012, the commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end. Our ambitious task at the Durban climate conference will be to ensure that the world will still want to talk about climate policy and that a certain legally binding mechanism which guarantees climate action will be secured.
At the Environment Council in October, there was a difficult discussion in the forum of the Council, but we managed to agree on a single joint position of the European Union on how we intend to conduct these negotiations and how we intend to achieve progress in the negotiations. There are two objectives which we are going to make every effort to achieve. The first of these is a question of encouraging an openness to the Kyoto Protocol. As Mr Leinen has already said, the Kyoto Protocol is currently the only mechanism which binds countries on climate issues, so we must maintain a positive attitude to the Kyoto Protocol, and use both the good and the bad experiences of the Protocol to talk about a legally binding new commitment under the convention. This brings us to our second objective – for the Kyoto Protocol to be a certain transitional form leading to a new, legally binding commitment under which all countries will agree to join the Kyoto mechanism and accept a differentiated but common responsibility for questions related to protection of the environment. These are the ambitious political objectives we are going to pursue at the conference in Durban.
Naturally, besides this, there are measures which arise from the work and from the negotiations. There is, in particular, the question of implementing the Cancún agreements, which means the question of further negotiations related to technology transfer and adaptation to climate change – which is particularly important for the developing countries – and the question related to mitigation, technology transfer and funding. Funding is also going to play a very important role in Durban because it is important for the developing countries. We have made certain decisions and have pledged certain amounts, so opening an institution connected with the Green Fund will be a very important outcome of the Durban Summit, and we hope this will be the case.
The transparency of countries – and here this means the transparency of the European Union – in the area of ‘fast-start’ financing is going to play a very important role. According to the reports we have at our disposal, the European Union is going to distinguish itself concerning this commitment and, in 2012, pledges amounting to over EUR 7 billion will be presented to the developing countries. In this area, it is important that as the European Union, we do, in fact, maintain full transparency – full transparency of the measures we are going to present in Durban.
As the Presidency, we are also currently taking a series of measures related to putting pressure on the world’s large economies for them to want to join with and agree to the European Union’s proposal on what should be done next to achieve a global agreement on climate change. We have been involved in numerous meetings at political level as well as with the negotiators and with experts. We have very good contact with the developing countries and with the African group. Several meetings at ministerial level have already taken place in Africa. As for the outcome of the Durban Summit, we have great hopes concerning China, as this country has recently been showing a very constructive attitude, and we hope we will be able to achieve further progress in the negotiations.
Connie Hedegaard, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, thank you for this opportunity to discuss where we are heading for in Durban. Needless to say, the Commission is trying to do whatever it can through outreach, through bilateral contacts at all levels, through proposing draft texts, suggestions, and by trying to find ways forward to ensure that we make progress in Durban.
We all know that Durban is not going to deliver what we would like to see in Europe – the internationally binding deal. That is not because of Europe. It is because of others.
The Polish Presidency already mentioned many of the issues that we are pursuing like how to close the gap, as Mr Leinen said as his first point. It is extremely important in Durban to figure out how we can close the gap.
We are discussing a lot of technicalities, but are we actually reducing emissions? This is what is at stake. We should never forget that this must be the key issue, so I agree with Mr Leinen on making that the first point.
Accounting rules, finance, new market-based mechanisms, a lot of things must be implemented that were agreed in Copenhagen and which were agreed in Cancún.
But let me use this very limited time to talk a bit more in depth on one of the key issues that was not solved in Cancún last year: the question of the legal form of whatever we can agree in the future. That will, of course, be on the table in Durban.
The EU’s goal remains an ambitious, comprehensive, legally binding international framework covering all parties. It is, and it remains, the best way to keep the global temperature increase below 2 °C. And let us be clear: the EU is in favour of the Kyoto Protocol. The EU has taken targets under the Kyoto Protocol. We have not only delivered on these targets; we are actually on a path to overshoot our targets.
We have built our own legislation up to 2020 in line with the Kyoto principles. So when it comes to Kyoto, Europe is not the problem. We are doing, and will continue to do, whatever we can to get as much of the Kyoto acquis and the rules established for the future.
Therefore, of course, Europe is willing to take a second commitment period, but, as has already been mentioned, unfortunately not too many are following us there. Japan, Russia, Canada, who used to be members of the Kyoto family, have very clearly stated that they are not going to take a second commitment period.
Up till now, the Kyoto family has accounted for around one-third of global emissions. There is the possibility that after Durban, the second commitment period family will account for 15% of global emissions.
Nonetheless, Europe has said yes. We are open to taking a second commitment period, but because what matters to us is the climate, and because what matters to us are real reductions, we have also attached a condition. We say there are some things with the environmental integrity, AAUs and LULUCF, but we also need to have this put into a context where, together with a second commitment period, we secure the bridge to the future; that others accept we must agree on a road map where other major emitters engage in a broader framework and where Kyoto rules are improved to ensure the environmental integrity.
That means we are trying to find middle ground. We are open to this second commitment period, but in the clear road map that we want, we also need to have a timeline. When will other major economies commit? And when will they commit in the same legal form as we do?
That is going to be one of the main discussions in Durban.
As I said, we are not the problem there. We are the ones trying to secure our ambition. And it is fine for Europe to make the bridge to the future, together with Norway, Switzerland and a few others that will take a second commitment period. But it is also a legitimate question for Europe to ask: what is the point in making the bridge to the future if nobody will follow us into that future?
If they are not ready now, then we need to know when they are ready. That is why the timeline is a key request for Europe.
I have spent my time explaining this because I think it is also key that others understand that Europe is ready and that Europe is not the problem. The problem is those who are not moving their position in order to deliver what must be delivered if Durban is not just to be about process, but about really achieving something that can improve the climate.
Karl-Heinz Florenz, on behalf of the PPE Group. – (DE) Mr President, Ms Maćkowiak-Pandera, Ms Hedegaard, I am very pleased that you are in the chair today, Mr President.
I support this resolution with all the political power available to me and I believe that we have done a good job. However, Ms Hedegaard, as you know, I have been here for a long time and before all the climate conferences, we have shaken hands and said that we want to work together to achieve a specific goal, but afterwards, we have not really understood what actually happened in Copenhagen or in Cancún. Two or three good approaches were proposed in Cancún and we must put them into practice. That goes without saying.
However, the question that we need to ask is: Why are other countries not able to get along with Europe? I have one very simple example of this. The US President came to Copenhagen and said: ‘No money, no treaty’. Then the Chinese stood up and replied: ‘Mr President, we do not need your money’.
Therefore, we need to consider once again whether our approach is the right one. I believe that it is correct, but that we are not yet clear about what lever we should be using. It is obvious that we need a follow-up concept to Kyoto and that we have to develop the long-term cooperation actions (LCA) even further. What conditions should apply to them? When should you say yes to China if China presents you with a modified five-year programme? I have taken the opportunity to say this to Ms Maćkowiak-Pandera. If I were working in a private company, they would be asking me: What is your strategy and who are you working with to achieve your goals? This question is very important in ensuring our lasting success.
One decisive development which has taken place in Europe over the last few years will be very helpful to us, and that is the issue of resource policy. I believe that the shortage of resources throughout the world is just as important a problem as CO2 emissions. I also believe, as Mr Leinen has said, that we can have an influence in this area. Therefore, we should be using the issue of the efficiency of resource policy as a lever for finding partners all over the world who are prepared to step onto this innovation staircase and to attempt to introduce more free market instruments to carry industry along with us.
The United States and its environmental and climate policies are really not something that we should be happy about. However, US industry has clearly recognised that resource efficiency and efficiency policies are very helpful in winning international contracts. When we in Europe rightly establish an aviation emissions trading system, the US has no choice but to build the necessary jet engines, which they then sell all over the world. We are influencing this policy and we should continue to do so in future.
The same applies to China. The chair of the Chinese environment committee said to me: ‘Karl-Heinz, we are the most important committee in the world. Do you really imagine that we are subject to any authority other than the Chinese people who evaluate our programmes?’ They will not do that, Ms Hedegaard, and therefore we need another more modern lever to allow us to exert our influence here. I would like to give you every encouragement in this area, because some areas of European industry are on the brink of collapse. No one can deny that.
If we focus on the measures that you have implemented in a range of legislation, if we move towards renewable energy and sustainability and force our industries to make use of the very latest technologies, I am sure that we will give this policy an additional impetus. That is what I would like to encourage you to do. Otherwise, you can work on the assumption that I am very happy to vote in favour of our resolution.
Dan Jørgensen, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, the International Energy Agency just recently published a report saying that the developed countries of this world, the industrialised countries, have about five years to change fundamentally the way they produce energy and the way they consume energy in order for us to stay below a two degree increase in temperature.
Now, if we do not stay below two degrees, we know what will happen. This is when the self-enhancing effect sets in, when it gets out of control and catastrophe happens. Then, if we look at what has actually now been pledged by the same countries, the countries that need to change fundamentally within five years, it is unfortunately very unsatisfactory. We see a situation now where the pledges are about half of what we need in order to reach our target. We see a situation in which the pledges of the major countries, the developed countries, are not even close to where we need them to be.
This is why Durban is so important, why we are in so much of a hurry to create real results. We all know that we will not get a full legally binding agreement with regard to mitigation in Durban that will solve these problems, but we know also that we have possibilities to pursue targets that are ambitious nonetheless – targets that will get us closer to our final goal. This is why I think it is extremely important when the Commissioner states that the EU should push for legally binding agreements under certain terms.
We think that the Kyoto Protocol is a good idea and that the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol could be a way forward but only if, first of all, it has environmental integrity and, second, it is combined with a road map for emerging economies, especially for when they will start to reduce their emissions. This is not only about mitigation. We also need to discuss adaptation, because even if we do succeed in having the mitigation targets we want, we know that the world will experience climate change and we know that the poorest countries of this world, in particular, will have difficulties adapting to this.
This is why we have a moral obligation to help them financially; we have a moral obligation in the industrial countries to find money so that they can have capacity building and so that they can have the necessary means to adapt to these situations.
Corinne Lepage, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (FR) Mr President, Ms Maćkowiak-Pandera, Commissioner, the Durban conference is indeed an important one in what is a very difficult context.
The worsening of the climate situation is increasingly obvious and emissions have never been as high as last year. Cancún was a relative success but since then, nothing has happened in practical terms. Finally, thirdly, it is true that today, Europe is in economic and financial difficulty and that what is also at stake in Durban is its geopolitical and geostrategic position.
If we want to move forward in Cancún, I believe we must firstly be extremely firm about our own situation. We committed ourselves to a ‘Green Fund’. This Green Fund really must make progress, on the legal issues, the issues of governance and everything else of course, but the most important is to be able to find ways of financing this Green Fund. Now on this issue, we have made no progress, or very little.
We could talk about innovative financing until we are blue in the face, but what really matters is where this financing comes from. A tax on financial transactions, a carbon tax, a tax on sea and air travel? It might be a combination of these, I do not know, but in any case, what is essential is to be specific and show the countries of the South that this is indeed not virtual but for real.
I will make exactly the same comment with regard to binding commitments. Yes, we need a Kyoto II. Yes, it is true that a Kyoto II limited to Europe would certainly be very good as far as ethics and industry are concerned, for I share Mr Florenz’s point of view on the fact that we need to give a boost to our industry in the area of renewable energy and energy efficiency. However, I am not sure that this would be enough to make a difference globally. How, then, can we effectively, by deed and not only by word, convince the countries of the South –which are the first to suffer from climate change, because let us not forget that the first to suffer from climate change are the poorest countries, and within the rich countries the poorest among us – that we must move forward?
Bas Eickhout, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – (NL) Mr President, we all know that it was primarily the United Nations that was saved in Cancún and not the climate. Therefore, the climate ought to be at the top of the agenda in Durban this time around. The most important thing we have internationally is the Kyoto Protocol. Therefore, if anything very clearly needs to be done – because the Kyoto Protocol will expire at the end of next year – if anything is important, then it is continuing with the Kyoto Protocol and doing so straightway. Instead of attaching any strings to that, Europe should simply say: we are in favour of the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol.
You said, Ms Hedegaard, that Europe is not the problem, but why are we then still not quite clear about what rules apply for the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol? What will happen to all the hot air? If we really want to make a difference, we need to ensure that we bring no hot air from the first to the second commitment period. I am also addressing this to the Polish Presidency; I hope that it will make out a case to ensure that none of that hot air is brought to the next Kyoto period. That was my first point.
The second crucial point is, indeed, a clear timeframe for a binding target in 2015. We need to ensure that, in 2015, there is a binding target, the rules for which have been decided upon by more countries than just the EU. China is the key country in this respect. We all know that we looked to the US for too long in Copenhagen. This time around, though, the lynchpin will be China. If you look now at what China is doing, not just in terms of investment in renewable energy, but also with regard to energy saving, then China is the country with which we jointly, as Europe, should be making deals. Let us, therefore, just leave the US out of the picture, because we should not expect anything from the US at the moment.
Finally, let me turn to the EU’s leading role. You said: Europe is leading the way. However, we seem to be leading less and less. Australia already has plans to make taxes on carbon higher than those in Europe. In Japan, they have a more energy-efficient society. Europe should really ensure that we maintain that leadership and that also means that our own ambitions, our own climate ambitions, need to be markedly increased. Our reduction target therefore ought to be more than just that 20% with which we have been complying for years and which is easy for us to achieve. We need higher levels of ambition.
Miroslav Ouzký, on behalf of the ECR Group. – (CS) Mr President, I think we are all being less than honest with one another here. As a participant in several climate conferences in recent years, I am becoming very sceptical. We are always saying that we have to reach a global agreement, and without a global agreement, measures at European level make no sense. If you look at the emissions data today, they are numbers that primary school children could understand. What we have now done ahead of Durban and after Cancún is another example of unilateral commitments. We claim that Cancún was a success. Cancún was saved from failure and tragedy at the last moment. As the fellow Member said, the UN was close to collapse. We cannot consider this a success. If we again offer unilateral decarbonisation of the EU in our declaration, if we offer unilateral commitments that have no global impact, and if we offer to include a tax on financial transactions which does not even exist yet, then I am afraid I will be unable to sign this document, and I am also withdrawing from signing this document on behalf of the ECR Group. They will, of course, wish our delegation all success, but I am a sceptic, and I must emphasise that an agreement will not be achieved.
IN THE CHAIR: ISABELLE DURANT Vice-President
Bairbre de Brún, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – (GA) Madam President, before the negotiations in Durban, the EU must indicate that we will be committed to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. It must be a strong second commitment, both in its aims and its legal version.
It is clear that the aim is an ambitious global resolution. The EU can help achieve that and can display leadership without regard for the stance of other people. In Durban, we must close the gigatonne gap between current levels of ambition and the levels that are necessary according to science. It will also be crucially important that there is climate funding in developing countries.
In addition to combating the big political issue surrounding the framework on the way forward, the negotiations in Durban must taken certain steps to implement the Cancún agreements. As regards the issue of funding, the summit in Durban must provide a path for the scaling up of climate funding for the period 2013-2020 and provide appropriate long-term funding to support a low carbon future for developing countries so that they do not go down the same dirty path of development. Also, it must help developing countries deal with the damage that has already been caused.
Oreste Rossi, on behalf of the EFD Group. – (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, it is now known that some of the world’s great economies have already declared that they will not be signing a second Kyoto agreement. The European Council of 23 October, taking note of this stalemate in negotiations, declared that the European Union will be prepared to sign a Kyoto 2 only as part of a transition towards a global climate treaty which establishes a schedule and timeframe for all countries. Commissioner Hedegaard has led us to understand that proceeding unilaterally would be a strategic error.
Nevertheless, Parliament continues undaunted, living in a utopia and asking, with the umpteenth resolution which is detached from any sense of reality, that the European Union undertakes to disregard a unilateral reduction of emissions of over 20%. What exactly is the point of Parliament’s mission to Durban, considering that it has no negotiating role, all the more thanks to this resolution which threatens to throw out this piece of scrap paper? The Conference of Presidents would do well to abandon and forget about this useless kermesse, which is nothing more than a well-dressed window display.
Lucas Hartong (NI). – (NL) Madam President, the climate is soon to be discussed in South Africa during the UN conference on climate change. Great! Perhaps that will be an opportunity to finally do something about improving the political and social climate in South Africa, which could be said to be terrible under the current ANC apartheid regime.
Improvements to this are needed in every area. The fight against the huge level of unemployment and lack of prospects facing young people, the fight against the terrible criminality that is past bearing, the tracing and prosecuting of black radicals who murder farmers on their own land, also known as ‘farm murders’, the fight to preserve Afrikaans, the fight against the ANC subordinating its own population, because discrimination based on skin colour is a reality again.
The delegation of the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) therefore strongly supports climate change in South Africa, but these are matters which will definitely not be discussed at this conference. Unfortunately, they will be talking again about the supposed climate change. A theory adhered to by only a few fervent believers. I have the firm impression that global interest in this issue is declining. Even I was urged on a number of occasions to please join the flight to South Africa. Besides, the IPCC itself finally now appears to have realised that there is hardly any global warming to speak of. Let me give you a quotation from the draft report for Durban: ‘The uncertainty about possible changes in climate extremes in the coming decades is quite high, because signals of climate change appear to be quite small compared to natural climate changes’. If the IPCC itself is already openly expressing doubts about the usefulness of Durban, why on earth are members of the European Parliament still going to the conference? Why are we actually still spending our taxpayers’ money on this? The PVV will therefore not be going to Durban. Baie dankie.
Richard Seeber (PPE). – (DE) Madam President, Ms Maćkowiak-Pandera, Ms Hedegaard, the climate issue can be interpreted in different ways. Today, we are discussing meteorological factors and I believe that when we go to Durban, it is important for us to be aware of the circumstances we find ourselves in. We have committed to decarbonising the world economy by 2050 at the latest. At the same time, we are in the midst of the most serious economic crisis of recent decades. This means that we need to convert our economy without being able to rely significantly on public subsidies and, most importantly, without being able to change the international pricing structure for major raw materials, in particular, energy sources, because the major polluters, such as China and the US, have already indicated that they are not prepared to do this. The result is, of course, that Europe is facing particularly serious challenges and I believe that when we go to Durban, we should break our activities down into what we can do here to set a good example and what we can do externally.
Internally, I have to say that I am a little disappointed by the lack of an ambitious approach to the problems concerning water, including too much water, too little water, floods and droughts. The Commission could take more action in this area. We should play a more decisive role with regard to F-gas emissions – I am hoping that we will see an ambitious proposal being produced next year in particular – and the mainstreaming of the common agricultural policy and regional policy. I hope, Ms Hedegaard, that you will be successful in this respect.
Externally, I think we should work towards the goals decided on in Cancún. With regard to Kyoto II, we need better quality projects to allow us to get where we want to go, in other words, to achieve these objectives.
Marita Ulvskog (S&D). – (SV) Madam President, there was a window of opportunity at the climate conference in Copenhagen, as several speakers here have already mentioned. This window was closed by the confidence gap that developed between the richest countries and the poorest and fastest-growing countries. What are we going to do about this in Durban? Well, firstly, it is vital to get the financing of the adaptation measures for the period 2013 to 2020 in place if we are to be able to close this confidence gap. Quite simply, we need to keep our promises. Otherwise, no changes and no results will be possible.
Our second task must be the comprehensive climate agreement post 2012. In this regard, while still being one of the world’s strongest and richest regions and despite the lack of trust and the objections that have been raised here in the debate, we really need to show that we are taking a leading role. Without leadership, no one will follow.
Several people have mentioned the economic crisis. This is going to affect us for a long time, but should it mean that we give up on all of our other social development and other political ambitions? If that is the case, we can discontinue this Parliament. The truth is that if global warming continues the way it has been going for a while now, it will affect us not only during a period of crisis, but forever.
Chris Davies (ALDE). – Madam President, the resolution we are going to approve tomorrow urges the parties to ensure the conclusion of a comprehensive, international, fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement but, as has already been said, that is not going to happen. A triumph of hope over reality. And that is a pity because global warming emissions rose by 6% last year. The Barclay study, funded by arch-climate change sceptics, has just concluded that in practice, the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were right all along and temperatures are indeed growing as predicted.
But just when we need action, we are going to get Kyoto II, which is going to be weaker than Kyoto I, and 85% of the world’s emissions are not going to be covered by it. It is hard to justify the way in which the UN process has worked, despite the incremental gains that have been made.
Global warming is being forced ahead by population growth and demand for energy by all those extra people: 200 000 extra people on the planet every day. It is clear that the nations of the world do not care very much about the more vulnerable ones, about protecting those at most risk from climate change, or indeed about passing on the costs of dealing with climate change to future generations, but maybe self-interest will start to prevail.
We look at the predictions of the International Energy Agency, of oil prices within five years going up to USD 150 a barrel as a standard. That, I think, is double what the Commission was predicting when it carried out impact assessments for the climate change package just a few years ago. Perhaps also it will be driven by the self-interest of fear: fear of being left behind. No country is changing its energy mix faster than China; no country is trying to move away from coal, develop global warming, improve its energy efficiency, develop an emissions trading scheme more than China. There are going to be economic winners, and there are going to be economic losers on this planet. We need to make sure we are on the side of the winners.
Satu Hassi (Verts/ALE). – (FI) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, this debate has already made reference to the recent warning by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that the window of opportunity to keep climate change below two degrees will close in a few years’ time. When such a conservative establishment as the IEA gives so serious a warning, it really needs to be taken seriously.
All countries need to step up their measures to combat climate change and immediately end subsidies for fossil fuels, which, according to the IEA, are six times greater than those for renewable energy. One key issue in climate talks is the financing of measures to combat climate change in developing countries. The EU should not approach the subject merely as a pawn in the negotiations. It is in our own interests that the measures to cut emissions, for which this funding is needed, actually exist, which is to say, both those that the developing countries themselves take to cut emissions and also their adaptation measures.
The EU should increase its international climate funds to EUR 30 billion by the end of the decade. The EU should also do all it can to reach an agreement on innovative financing methods. That is also in the interests of the developing countries, because a financial transaction tax and an air and shipping tax are much more reliable sources of funding.
Anna Rosbach (ECR). – (DA) Madam President, I would like to thank the Minister and the Commissioner for being here this evening. Tomorrow, the European Parliament will vote ambitiously on a resolution on the climate change conference in Durban. The EU is currently responsible for around 11% of global emissions. Who is responsible for the remaining 89%? When will we have binding commitments from other parts of the world to carry out the same reductions as the EU in order to achieve a 2 °C reduction?
Having said that, I unfortunately have to say that I cannot support the joint resolution for three reasons. The resolution seeks the complete severance from fossil fuels by 2050. I consider this to be unrealistic at a global level. The resolution proposes to change from unanimity to a qualified majority as the future model for decision making in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This would involve the surrender of a significant degree of sovereignty. I do not see this as a realistic solution either. Thirdly, the resolution proposes the introduction of an international financial transaction tax. Here, we are mixing a controversial financial policy into the climate debate. As I see it, this may jeopardise a positive outcome of the conference. I do not want to stand in the way of the EU speaking with one voice in the negotiations in Durban. I will therefore abstain in the vote tomorrow.
Godfrey Bloom (EFD). – Madam President, one thing we do know about climate is that it is a pretty odd old thing. We know that it was warmer on the globe in the Holocene period; we know it was warmer in the Roman period; we also know it was warmer in the medieval period. It was cooler in the Little Ice Age in the early 19th century. We also know there has been no significant change in climate over the last 6 000 years and we also know that most scientific organisations have confirmed that there has been no significant statistical global warming in the last 15 years? I have these figures in front of me. They are the same figures that Mr Davies quoted. He is very careful in what he selects.
What I would like to suggest before everybody disappears to Durban, saving the world as they travel on first class airfares and sip their martinis in expensive hotels, is that I have old age pensioners in Yorkshire on GBP 98 a week … and you are picking up the tab. I would suggest, given this fiscal crisis that we have, that it would be a nice gesture – particularly from you, Commissioner, who does not pay much income tax and is on a very good salary – for you to offer to pay for your own trip.
Pilar del Castillo Vera (PPE). – (ES) Madam President, Commissioner, I believe the climate change conference in Durban has an advantage over its immediate predecessors: there is no doubt whatsoever that achieving a binding international agreement is impossible.
This should enable energy to be channelled into proposals and joint lines of action that will indeed allow us to progress in practice towards the goal of emissions cuts. So this is good news, because we were not in this position in Cancún, much less when the Copenhagen climate summit was held.
I believe this is the time for the European Union to become the regional leader in energy efficiency proposals, which really can unite the work of a great number of other countries, from the most developed and the richest, to the least developed and the poorest.
Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, fighting against climate change by boosting energy efficiency brings incredible opportunities in all areas, and I sincerely believe that it is time for the European Union to become the leader in combating climate change through energy efficiency.
Kriton Arsenis (S&D). – Madam President, it seems evident now that political time is often different from real-world deadlines.
We are talking about 2015, when it is clear that it is very doubtful any agreement enforced after that would give us a chance to address this huge problem. We should ensure emissions peak by then or earlier, not start deciding what to do after that.
What we can do in Durban is to commit to a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. If we do not do that, it is clear that it will be difficult to avoid the collapse of the negotiations with the developing countries on a legally binding agreement.
As the Commissioner said, we are not the problem, but if we do not commit to a second period under Kyoto, we will become part of the problem. We will become the problem.
Commissioner, you said that Canada, Russia and Japan are also not committing. We know that Canada did not respect its commitment; it increased emissions by 26%. Russia is a very peculiar participant, among the Annex 1 countries, and Japan is the only one of the real Annex 1 participants that did not commit to a second period.
So what was the news that made us change our decision? Briefly, could you give a commitment, Commissioner, that you are not going to support a political agreement, but you will stick to a legally binding agreement for Kyoto?
Julie Girling (ECR). – Madam President, on behalf of the UK Conservative delegation, I say with some regret that we will be having to abstain on this vote, having been unable to agree a text which we can sign up to. With the climate summit coming up, I would like to affirm our support for the key message which emerged from the G8 and G20 in advance of the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17), namely, that the conclusions of the summit should be balanced, fair and credible, while at the same time maintaining and strengthening the multilateral rules-based response to climate change.
I fully support the need to build on the foundations of last year’s Cancún agreements, particularly the full realisation of the Green Climate Fund which, of course, is crucial to many potential outcomes in Durban. With such a firm working basis ahead of negotiations, it is therefore vital that the latest round of talks is not encumbered by unrealistic, unworkable and unaffordable wish lists. Yet that is precisely what this Parliament will present in Durban with the resolution which was recently adopted in the Environment Committee. In the midst of this crippling recession, it is out of touch to make sweeping suggestions like financial transaction taxes, full decarbonisation etc., and even an apparent rejection of UN multilateralism with an EU-style qualified majority voting system.
Romana Jordan Cizelj (PPE). – (SL) Madam President, firstly, as the rapporteur for the opinion for the ITRE committee, I would like to thank my colleagues for their invaluable cooperation, on both the ENVI committee and the ITRE committee, which has enabled us to recognise the truly horizontal role played by climate change. In the transition to a low carbon society, sustainable technologies will play a key role. Therefore, on a European and global scale, we must invest more in the research, innovation and establishment of new technologies. A binding agreement on the technological mechanisms and networks needed to enable technology sharing must be reached in Cancún as soon as possible. In a time of financial crisis it is difficult, but we must also make provisions for corresponding investment programmes. In the EU, we have already adopted a climate-energy legislative package and also pledged financial assistance to developing countries. However, the EU cannot stop global warming on its own. We will only see results if the rest of the world acts with us. We not only wish to strike a balance between the environment, security and the economy, but also hope to share responsibility between the EU and the rest of the world and, in this context, I strongly agree with the Commissioner about building a bridge, with conditions and timelines. These measures will prevent the transfer of pollution outside the EU and carbon leakage. We must avoid importing into the EU products that are competitively priced due to poor environmental standards. So we must also look at what is happening on our borders. We must consider the possibility of carbon leakage. During climate negotiations, the EU should also stress that a healthy environment is one of the fundamental human rights. Rights that should be guaranteed by every country in the world.
Rovana Plumb (S&D). – (RO) Madam President, if the European Union is not a problem, this means that we need to start by maintaining our leading position in the battle against climate change. We can do this through extensive, effective environmental diplomacy so that we can achieve clear targets in Durban for reaching our goal. We need to inject new impetus into the European Union’s negotiations and do it in such a way as to encourage our partners to reduce gas emissions. We must also back the creation of the Green Fund so that we can support all the measures needed to mitigate the impact of climate change.
We need to remember, if we are speaking with a single voice in Durban, to introduce the principle of climate justice, because those hit hardest in the wake of climate change are the deprived population groups, those living in poverty and verging on the risk of poverty, especially women and children. We need to protect these groups.
In the interim, I am confident that we will speak with a single voice as the European Union and that we will call for smart development to create jobs and safeguard social security because this is the important role we have to play in Durban.
Elisabetta Gardini (PPE). – (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I believe that, in reality, the figures tell us that Europe alone is not capable of accommodating the effects of climate change. According to the data, 33.5 billion tonnes of CO2 were emitted into the atmosphere in 2010 – an increase of 5.9% on the year before. We know that the main emitters are the United States and China. We also know that China is the largest producer of CO2 and that its economy is, to a very large degree, based on energy generated by carbon, which produces one-fifth of China’s energy, and that a large part of China’s domestic heating relies on carbon.
In my opinion, all this tells us that we must change our approach. Copenhagen was cloaked in great but delusive expectations, whereas Cancún, when it became more concrete, produced some results. I believe that today, we should aim towards a new climate strategy which truly focuses on research, on renewable energy sources and on energy efficiency, whose potential has been little tapped into in the past. According to a United Nations study, of the USD 112 billion invested globally in clean energy in 2008, only 1.8 billion was spent on improving energy efficiency.
Edite Estrela (S&D). – (PT) Madam President, everything has already been said in this debate, even, with what Mr Bloom said, a bit of nonsense. The crisis has been serving as an excuse for not taking the ambitious decisions that the situation requires and the public expects, in relation to the economy, to society or to the environment.
As such, expectations for Durban are fairly low, but it is to be hoped that, at the least, a step will be taken towards reaching a fair and legally binding international agreement, and that the goal of keeping global warming below 2 ºC can be achieved. That will require strength of will and political leadership.
The European Union should publicly and unequivocally declare its commitment to finding a successor to the Kyoto Protocol with ambitious and courageous targets. Durban should also contribute to consolidating the progress made in Cancún, specifically as regards the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Committee.
It should be re-emphasised that the developed countries committed to making new resources available in the 2010-2012 period – a minimum of USD 30 billion and of USD 100 billion per year until 2020 – to support the mitigation and adaptation measures of vulnerable and less developed countries.
Françoise Grossetête (PPE). – (FR) Madam President, I fear that the Durban meeting is the last chance, after the quasi failures of Copenhagen and Cancún.
How can we follow on from the Kyoto Protocol when most signatories are refusing today to commit any further? How can we get the message across to the European people that the fight against climate change remains a priority at a time when we are in a very serious economic crisis?
Commissioner, I welcome your commitment, your determination and your ambition – we support you. The European Union has indeed honoured all its commitments towards developing countries, including financial ones.
However, how can the European Union have the ability to take the lead among its partners in obtaining an agreement that is legally binding? In reality, we are struggling to convince. The international negotiation process is like a boat that has lost its way, without a captain or a home base.
The United States is rejecting any binding agreement, as well as sanctions. When President Obama was elected, we were somewhat confident but then, unfortunately, the House of Representatives is now climate-sceptical. So, in this context, it is no longer ‘Yes we can’ but ‘No we won’t’.
Then there is China: we hear a lot about China’s investment in a green economy, but this is simply to invade the international market. Meanwhile, China is building coal plants every week.
So, let us be innovative, let us invest, for if we do not, I greatly fear that broke and frustrated European citizens will be under no illusions about preparing for this new deadline.
Gilles Pargneaux (S&D). – (FR) Madam President, Commissioner, firstly, I would like to offer my support to the ambitious objectives of the resolution that will be voted on tomorrow, in particular, with this desire to limit the temperature rise to two degrees, but also to have a policy that will ensure that these greenhouse gas emissions do not exceed 20%.
However, your desire, Ms Hedegaard, is to have a proactive approach at Durban, as you have demonstrated since becoming European Commissioner, to enable the continuity of the Kyoto agreement despite the difficulties you yourself mentioned in your speech this afternoon.
However, leaving aside this proactive approach, I would like to put a number of questions to you: how are you going to implement this negotiation strategy so that the various financial commitments taken at Copenhagen are enforced, the USD 30 billion from 2010 to 2012, but also at Cancún, the USD 100 billion, the Green Fund that you mentioned with a view to helping developing countries? What governance do you intend to promote for the multilateral management of these funds, considering the large number of beneficiaries and donors? Finally, what do you intend to do to ensure that these committed funds are not taken from current development aid?
Jolanta Emilia Hibner (PPE). – (PL) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the resolution we have drafted this year is much better than the one we presented last year. Last year, we set ourselves much more ambitious objectives. We thought that having set these objectives, everyone would follow our lead. Unfortunately, they turned out to be too much for many countries. From a practical point of view, we had a big problem with presenting our resolution in such a form. Therefore, at the moment, the most important matter and the most important priority is that in the climate negotiations, we agree on the future of the Kyoto Protocol, which is coming to an end, and that we specify conditions which it will be possible for other countries to meet.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would not like to be one of those Europeans who have the kind of belief we see being expressed by the Chinese or the Americans: ‘It’s the economy, stupid’. We should adopt balanced objectives and present our proposals in a way which will mean that others want to act upon them together with us. We created the Green Fund to support developing economies. We also have to say that by ‘developing economies’, we do not mean China or Brazil, because they have already made considerable advances. The Green Fund has resources which are to be used to support those economies which really are the poorest. Thank you very much.
Sirpa Pietikäinen (PPE). – Madam President, if we fail to solve the financial crisis, we are going to end up with mass unemployment and mass economic problems for decades. But we can solve it.
If we fail to solve the climate crisis, that is it. We have a gigantic gap that is growing and we have a gigantic task for mankind and we are debating it under the old regime of who does what.
What is happening with the transatlantic relations and what are the developing or the developed countries doing?
This debate is not going to solve the situation. Quite correctly, we need EU leadership and that means we need everybody to be committed to the 2 °C target.
We need concrete steps on how everybody is going to achieve this and we need everybody to do it. We need to agree about the means, like taxation, about product regulations like the Eco-design Directive, and about sharing the financial costs. We also need our own commitment: a road map for moving to a competitive, low carbon economy in 2050. This is beneficial for us.
The later we do it, the more costly it will be.
Seán Kelly (PPE). – Madam President, I think the European Union has been a world leader in many areas, maybe without getting the credit for it.
Certainly in relation to development aid, and in climate change, we are second to none. Therefore, as we approach the conference in Durban, it is important that we should discuss these issues here.
But we also need to change our tactics. It is not good enough any more for the European Union to say we are going to go this far and we hope you will follow us. I think, in the present economic situation, particularly if countries that are competitors of ours, like Russia, Canada, the USA, China, etc., are not willing to come along the road with us, we should say we are not going to go as far as we said either.
We should concentrate on areas where there is an advantage to us, particularly in energy efficiency, ETS, as has been mentioned, and so forth, and not ensure that we go into poverty while they become richer and richer and the world falls apart.
Csaba Sándor Tabajdi (S&D). – (HU) Madam President, it is quite clear that there is a pragmatism starting to become prevalent in this House according to which the climate policy followed until now has failed and a new concept needs to be developed. I agree with Mr Florenz and those who say that we must chiefly focus on energy efficiency, the technological development of renewable energy sources and our cooperation with China, the US and others. However, the fate of global emission allowance trading is also important, in particular for the new Member States, because they have considerable climate assets. It is obvious that these climate assets cannot be fully carried over, but it would be very good to find a fitting solution to this, as the new Member States of the EU have made numerous sacrifices and have lost a great deal of jobs in contributing to climate protection.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL). – (PT) Madam President, one year on from the Cancún climate change conference, and two years since that of Copenhagen, numerous unanswered questions, deadlocks and obstacles remain. For our part, we are still convinced that the difficulties and contradictions that mark these conferences stem, in large measure, from the incomprehension of the main industrial powers – including the European powers too, naturally – of the true and deeper meaning of the principle of shared but differentiated responsibility.
Moreover, these powers almost always seem more interested in making use of the climate as a lucrative business opportunity, or in containing potential or real competitors, than in actually achieving real levels of emissions reduction, which would necessarily involve calling into question the model of economic and social organisation currently dominant at global level.
That is why we insist on the need for serious debate on the perversity of market instruments, on the carbon market, and on flexibility instruments like the clean development mechanism.
Alternatives to this market approach are needed.
Csanád Szegedi (NI). – (HU) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I find it essential for every responsible European politician to care deeply for environmental protection. I, too, care deeply for the fight against climate change, but this is a global issue, and global problems require global responses. It is all very well that the European Union is at the forefront of this fight, but let us admit, other than setting a good example, little is achieved through Slovenia, Estonia or Hungary, for that matter, adhering to strict climate protection rules. After all, it is not the European Union where most of the shortcomings are found; a climate protection minimum should be set in Durban and in some way, through diplomatic means, the United States, China and India should be compelled to at least take decisive steps in the protection against climate change.
Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE). – (PT) Madam President, it is important that the European Union continues to play a leading role in combating climate change. The Durban climate change conference must produce concrete proposals regarding an agreement on the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period and regarding the negotiations on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
In terms of the UNFCCC negotiations, there is a need to implement what was agreed in Cancún with regard to technology transfer, to training, to forests and to redesigning market mechanisms.
As regards the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period, Europe should give its assent under certain conditions, such as: firstly, the existence of a plan with well defined deadlines; secondly, a new separation between industrialised and developing countries; and, thirdly, the adoption of a sectoral approach to areas of industry, with the intensive use of energy as a solution to carbon leakage.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D). – (SK) Madam President, a few basic things need to be said about the EU’s standpoint ahead of the forthcoming conference in Durban.
In the first place, the Union must formulate its position in a clear and timely manner. We must present our solutions and we must be very consistent in communicating and promoting them.
We must also come out clearly in support of continuing the Kyoto Protocol, as its effectiveness will expire at the end of next year. This is an absolutely clear demand and a wholly unambiguous indicator of the success or failure of the Durban Summit. If the Kyoto Protocol does not continue after 2012, Durban will go down in history as the scene of the destruction of global efforts to bring climate change under control. At the same time, I firmly believe that this would be a sorry testimony to the declining influence of the EU in this area. In the meantime, we are optimists and we believe not only that the Union will become a leader, but also that the conference will go well.
Iosif Matula (PPE). – (RO) Madam President, the introduction of the Green Climate Fund at the Copenhagen conference gave us hope that we could rally a common desire to identify solutions to climate change. During the preparations for the Durban conference, we must keep in mind new objectives for changing and adapting the current energy structure and for supporting the measures for increasing effective investments in low carbon emission technologies.
In 2010, carbon dioxide emissions rose by 5% globally due to the rise in productivity of the emerging economies. This is why, until a global agreement comes into force on this, we must focus on short- and medium-term measures to be able to achieve the proposed objectives by 2020. In specific terms, we can give more guidance to municipal and regional authorities for them to transfer to a local low carbon economy using existing EU support.
Elena Băsescu (PPE). – (RO) Madam President, global warming is one of the most serious threats at the moment. Climate change will have a considerable environmental, economic and social impact. I think that the EU should retain its role as global leader on climate matters and come up with a clear strategy during the Durban conference. Environmental policy needs to be integrated more effectively into other sectoral policies. It is crucial for the future to get rid of the barriers in this area.
In my country, the priority measures plan for implementing the EU’s environmental acquis this year envisages 85 measures. The legislative package refers, in particular, to industrial pollution control, waste management and water quality. At the same time, the strategy for adapting the Danube Delta to climate change promotes the production of energy from sustainable biomass.
Connie Hedegaard, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, everyone I have heard taking the floor here today has expressed the wish that we must continue to pursue the goal of getting an international deal done. Everyone I have heard here today shares the common frustration – which is, of course, also my frustration and I think everybody’s frustration in Europe – at the lack of speed in progress. It is not that there is no progress. There is, but it is not as speedy as the urgency of the matter should tell us that it ought to be.
I also understand that everyone here agrees that, in order to have an internationally global deal that effectively combats climate change, we need all the major emitters, all the major economies, to be part of the solution. When we agree about all this, the next question for all of us will be how do we then proceed best in order to get them into the global deal we want?
I heard one Member here say that we should encourage them. I agree, but I think that we have encouraged them for some years now and so far not with enough success. Some of them simply are not ready to commit. What choice does that leave us with? We could, of course, give up on them. I do not feel much appetite for that here. So instead we will have to find other ways to achieve the goal.
I have heard some here say that we should drop these conditions and just take a second commitment period, no matter what. My question is: try to think whether that will increase or weaken the pressure on those that we want to push forward? That is the key question. I could also put it this way. Say that we now, today, from Europe announced that, without any conditions attached, we would just take a second commitment period. Do you think that those other major emitters that we want to bring into a legally binding global system would then do more? Or, on the contrary, would they lean back and relax and say, ‘Oh, it is fine. Europe is taking a second commitment period up to 2020 or whatever, so now we can relax. Let us discuss it again at the COPs in 2018, 2019 or whenever’?
That is the challenge here. I think that is why we tried to – it would be easy for Europe just to say we could take a second commitment period – but it would not bring others to move their position. I must say that, from a lot of outreach activities in recent months, I feel that a lot of countries – a lot of developing countries, a lot of the most vulnerable countries, the least developed countries, Pacific island states – understand what Europe is trying to do is increase pressure on others to engage.
Dan Jørgensen referred to the World Energy Outlook and that it said that we have only five or six years left. That is, of course, why we cannot afford a conference in Durban where, when we leave for home, it seems that we got something good for the process but we did nothing that could reduce emissions. We must always bear in mind that reducing emissions is the important thing. That is why we tried to use whatever we have to give leverage to the negotiations in order to try to push others in our direction.
I have two final points. Corinne Lepage and Mr Pargneaux asked about funding. The EU delivered fast-start funding last year and I am glad to say that in the Ecofin last Monday, it was clear that we are now also delivering this year. Mr Pargneaux asked about governance. There, I am also glad that the transitional committee that should prepare Green Climate Fund governance has agreed, with the exception of Saudi Arabia and the US, to ask the COP 17 to adopt a governance structure for the Green Climate Fund. I really hope we can make that operational in Durban.
I must also say one more thing on funding. I can feel now when we come out – whether it is Ethiopia and Africa, or it is 14 Heads of State at the Pacific Island Forum or wherever it is – that they are starting to explicitly thank the EU because they can see that our fast-start finance money is starting to work out in the field. That is what we need, and it is also what is very important that the Member States deliver on.
To conclude, I will reiterate that a critical way for the EU to convince its partners is by also showing leadership at home, as several of you have mentioned. Chris Davies and Ms del Castillo also mentioned energy efficiency. International negotiations are important – we all know why – but domestic ambition is also important. I agree, and the Commission is also in full agreement, that we could take it much further in Europe if we were actually addressing energy efficiency much more systematically. Even better, it would also contribute to job creation and make us much more competitive if we actually did that.
You will know that the Commission has made proposals here. I really hope that Parliament can help the Commission keep the ambition level up here. Finally, I am very much looking forward to working with the EP delegation in Durban and with the Presidency, all of us ensuring that Europe speaks with one voice and hopefully together, we can achieve progress in Durban – progress that does not only look like progress when it comes to the process, but actually is progress also when it comes to taking care of the interest of actually combating climate change.
Joanna Maćkowiak-Pandera, President-in-Office of the Council. – (PL) Madam President, I would like to thank everyone for what they have said, because their contributions to the debate are very important to us. This discussion is important. Cooperation with the European Parliament, which will also be represented in Durban, is important because we need to speak with one voice and present the position of the European Union together.
I would also like to refer to something which has been said many times today and to say a few words about what is a certain negative evaluation of the state of the negotiations and, therefore, of the outcome we can achieve. Broadly speaking, the situation is serious: the climate is changing, emissions are rising, Europe is experiencing a financial crisis. However, I cannot imagine saying on behalf of the Presidency that we are going to Durban thinking that whatever happens, there is nothing we can achieve. That would be a bizarre situation, and I do not know how I would justify such an approach in Poland and here before you all. I would like to give an assurance that we are still going with the hope that we will reach agreement on key matters. As for those key matters, the route which I personally see for the negotiations with the countries represented in Durban is firstly to make specific progress on the Cancún agreements. This is the first basic point; it also includes funding, which is very important for making progress in the negotiations. The second matter, which you have underscored repeatedly here, is a clear signal concerning the Kyoto Protocol. The European Union is interested in talking about another commitment period. It is extremely important to maintain this mechanism, and we will make every effort to do so. The third and perhaps most important element is a new legally binding agreement, which will include all the emitting countries with which we will be able to sit around the negotiating table and look at everything that has happened with the Kyoto Protocol. This will allow evaluation of the situation 20 years after the Protocol was negotiated. The situation has changed, and we can see that there are countries which currently have a variety of possibilities for reduction, but there are also countries which need adaptation funding. It will certainly be very important in Durban to achieve a good balance between mitigation and adaptation measures; not forgetting, either, what there is for us to do in Europe, and this also means adaptation to climate change. In the context of what is going to happen in the future, Mr Florenz made an important comment on the question of increasingly limited natural resources. We need to have a broad perspective on this problem, and not look at it as just a question of climate, but as an issue of ecosystems and their relations with water and waste.
Every day, there are more and more of us in the world while there are fewer resources and we continue to consume more. Therefore, we certainly do need to take action in the next one or two years. It is important to take urgent action in Europe to reduce the consumption of natural resources – and I am counting here on good cooperation with the European Parliament.
Thank you, everyone, for all you have said today.
President. – I have received one motion for a resolution(1) tabled in accordance with Rule 115(5) of the Rules of Procedure.
The debate is closed.
The vote will take place on Wednesday, 16 November 2011.
Written statements (Rule 149)
János Áder (PPE), in writing. – (HU) I am deeply disappointed that over the last two years, EU climate policy has been more like a dialogue among deaf people than cooperation between parties understanding and capable of accepting each other’s interests. In the Council, some of the old Member States selfishly and in a very short-sighted way refuse to accept the arguments made by the new Member States from Eastern Europe in seeking to protect their Kyoto quota surplus, which constitutes national assets to them. Yet when it comes to flaunting the EU’s excellent results in reducing emissions before global negotiating partners, the excellent record of the new Member States in overachieving their Kyoto commitments comes in handy even for them. What is all this still about? It is about the fact that the EU 15 would not have been able to fulfil their Kyoto commitments without the considerable emission reductions of the new Member States, including Hungary. It is about this reduction largely being a consequence of the collapse of the heavy industries of the former socialist countries, the price of which we paid in the form of the severe social and economic crisis that emerged in the 1990s. Meanwhile, however, several old Member States were merrily developing their industries and increasing their carbon emissions. Why is it that nobody wishes to penalise them? Why this double standard? In the light of this Council approach, I am glad that the European Parliament at least managed to openly stand up for the continuation of the Kyoto regime and for a new, legally binding commitment period. Although the resolution in itself does not guarantee that the quota surplus of Eastern European countries will be fully carried over, I definitely consider it a welcome step that should be followed.
Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) There is a large amount of scientific evidence highlighting the existence of climate change and its consequences, which makes it absolutely necessary for global action to be taken to tackle this major challenge of our century and of the future.
During the COP 17 negotiations, it is important for the European Union, as a major player with a single message, to pursue an ambitious international agreement and stand united. I think that more extensive and effective action is required from European environmental diplomacy, supported by all the institutions of the European Union, aimed at presenting clear objectives in the policies targeted at climate change, thereby injecting new impetus into the international negotiations and encouraging partners throughout the world to introduce binding greenhouse gas emission reductions and suitable measures for reducing and adapting to climate change.
To provide new impetus and a new direction in future negotiations, more attention should be focused on the fact that combating climate change allows new opportunities and ways to be created for forming societies based on greater resource efficiency.
Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. – (DE) Fossil fuels are still subsidised all over the world to the tune of USD 409 billion each year. Part of this funding comes from sources which should be used to combat climate change. Coal is the fossil fuel which is most harmful to the climate. However, new coal-fired power stations are constantly being built, particularly in China and India. International funding for combating climate change offers a paradoxical incentive. The argument goes that, without the subsidies, power stations with even higher levels of emissions would have to be built. In this way, Chinese companies are earning millions in subsidies. The same game is being played with funding for disposing of refrigerants that are harmful to the climate. This continued until it became obvious that production was being increased in China specifically to obtain subsidies. Any country that wants to be a global player must take responsibility for the environment. Subsidies that clearly fail to achieve the desired objective must be stopped. We must not allow Europe to impose restrictions on its own industry and, at the same time, to help finance coal-fired power stations in China and India.
Vladimir Urutchev (PPE), in writing. – (BG) The EU has set itself the aim of spearheading the battle to curb climate change and is steadfastly keeping to this commitment. At the same time, we cannot tackle the climate challenges alone. Unfortunately, our rivals, Russia, China and the US, are not as yet joining in with the efforts being made. We failed to persuade them, and there are no particular chances either of this happening at the Durban conference. Many analysts are predicting another failure there.
According to the latest forecasts, if current emission levels are maintained and no suitable measures are taken, the threshold will be surpassed for limiting warming to 2 ˚С already during this decade. Is it not time for us to devise a Plan B for the EU or new methods for involving those who will accumulate carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the coming years?
However, we should not accept the excuses of the developing countries and our rivals that the EU must pay because the industrial revolution and emissions took place here in the past. The new industrial tigers already have such a high level of emissions that they will very soon surpass the emissions we have accumulated historically. Let us also think during the negotiations about increasing the competitiveness of our economy, which will be competing with these rivals globally.
Zbigniew Ziobro (ECR), in writing. – (PL) The European Union is the only international organisation which, at a time of crisis, wants to go against the grain and be a leader in the fight against climate change. We have set ourselves further targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions, and in so doing we are strangling our own industry. The text of the resolution presented for the forthcoming climate summit in Durban is heading in a similar direction. We have decided that we must be the leader, when the whole world is going in a different direction. So I am opposed to the proposals to increase targets for reductions in CO2 emissions and to the ideas for levying ecological taxes on energy-intensive branches of industry in the Member States.
It should be borne in mind that in the last year, Canada has radically increased its emissions by 25%, while China, which is dramatically developing its industry, has recorded an increase of 10%, India one of over 8% and the US one of around 4%. Even our nearest Eastern neighbour, Ukraine, is planning to increase its use of coal for power generation from 22% to 33% by 2030, which will automatically be reflected in an increase in CO2 emissions. There have already been enough concessions on greenhouse gas emission reductions. All the more so because for some time, the Commission has not been able to present an impact analysis of the changes which are being introduced in the heavy industry and power generation sectors in Europe. The development of the green energy sector which has been presented here seems just a poor substitute. In Durban, it is our partners who must make the next move – we can wait for them.