EU: Don't shoot yourself in the foot over climate change | WWF

EU: Don't shoot yourself in the foot over climate change

Posted on 22 October 2001
Brussels, Belgium - Unless European Commissioners headed by Romano Prodi overcome internal differences and approve key measures for implementing the Kyoto Protocol tomorrow, the EU risks severe embarrassment at next week's Marrakech global climate conference, according to WWF, the conservation organization.

Commissioners last week deferred their planned approval of measures that should be decided on by EU Environment Ministers when they meet on Monday 29 October, the day the Marrakech conference opens.

Any further postponement by Commissioners could undermine the EU's global leadership against global warming and weaken international momentum for concluding the Kyoto climate treaty.

"WWF is looking to Romano Prodi to break the logjam. He must not let petty disagreements among European Commissioners defeat the greater global goal of protecting the world's climate," said Dr Stephan Singer, Head of WWF's Energy and Climate Policy Unit. "We hope the current problems are merely a hiccup in the process and not a case of the EU shooting itself in the foot."

The EU's international stature grew enormously last July when the Union played a key role in securing a global political agreement on the Kyoto Protocol.

The measures before the Commissioners are central to the EU being able to move forward with its own ratification of the treaty. Intended to be decided on as a package, the measures concern a climate action plan to guide the Commission's work in developing anti-global warming policies over the coming year, a legal instrument for the EU and its member states to ratify the Kyoto Protocol simultaneously and a draft Directive on emissions trading.

Differences among European Commissioners involve the Finnish Commissioner for industry, Erkki Liikanen, who has responded to objections from his country's paper and pulp industry, and the German Commissioner for Enlargement, Guenther Verheugen, who has received objections from the German industry organization, BDI.

The objections centre on proposals for emissions trading - a measure specifically included in the Kyoto Protocol to satisfy industry and economic concerns.

If Commissioners fail to reach a decision tomorrow, the EU could find that the timing of forthcoming EU Council meetings puts in jeopardy its intention to ratify the Kyoto Protocol by June 2002, for the Protocol to enter into force by September next year.

"Europe's citizens overwhelmingly want action against global warming," said Dr. Singer. "Politicians need to deliver."

The UN climate conference in Marrakech is to finalise the translation of July's landmark agreement on the Kyoto Protocol into legal text, enabling countries to ratify the treaty and turn it into international law.

The Protocol, requiring industrialized nations to reduce their global warming pollution 5 per cent below 1990 levels by around 2010, is the foundation for taking tougher action against climate change on the global level.

For more information:

Andrew Kerr, Public Affairs Manager, WWF Climate Change Campaign. Tel: +31 6 5161 9462

Olivier van Bogaert, Press Officer. Tel: +41 22 364 9554