EU to lead one more fight against climate change at G7 summit

Karmenu Vella, Member of the EC in charge of Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, presented the trophies to the winners of the Natura 2000 competition, during a ceremony organised in Brussels. (EC Audiovisual Services, 21/05/2015)

Karmenu Vella, Member of the EC in charge of Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, presented the trophies to the winners of the Natura 2000 competition, during a ceremony organised in Brussels. (EC Audiovisual Services, 21/05/2015)

The UN talks that are being held in the context of a 10-day climate conference in Bonn are highly crucial for the preparation of the final agreement that must be signed at the climate summit in Paris in 6 months from now. Therefore, officials from 190 nations are gathered in the German city to discuss among other climate issues the need to stop the temperature from rising more than 2o C, above the pre-industrial levels.

Six years after Copenhagen’s failure, the time seems to have matured for a more down-to-earth deal where compromises from all sides shall be made. Although it is very hard to satisfy everybody, the feeling about the negotiations is more positive according to Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Surprisingly, six European oil and gas firms have sent a letter to the UN asking for advice expressing their “willingness” to contribute to the climate change policy. In short, what they suggest is to implement techniques to reduce global warming.

Nevertheless, EU should get all possible aid given in order to outnumber the losses from the countries that are not contributing as much as the EU does. Thus, even if the EU is one of the best promoters of the environmental policies, it cannot change the climate on its own.

Consequently, it is very important for the EU leaders to try to persuade their counterparts regarding climate change in the G7 summit that will take place on June 7-8. This would be a great chance to push things forward and promote the 2o C deal that was abandoned back in 2009.

It is still too soon

The negotiations that are currently taking place do not seem to have gone much further. A text of about 90 pages has already been written that contains proposals on how to cut greenhouse gas emissions, promote green energy technologies and set a long term climate goal.  But this text must be heavily filtered since many of these proposals are overlapping or contradicting each other.

Every nation seems to have come with a good will in order to stop climate change, but they will try to do so within its power and border limits. This means that unfortunately climate and consequently the goal of 2o C will not be their number one priority.

UN’s optimism vs. reality

The UN climate chief Christiana Figueres is confident that an agreement will be made in Paris and that the political leaders will try to take advantage of what exactly the green economy can provide. Particularly, she stated in RTCC that: “There’s growing momentum, excitement but the most important thing is that there is growing realisation that not only is this possible but it is also in everyone’s best interests. That is really the turning point on this.”

On the other hand though, China’s position in the discussions for the climate change and the difficulties of approving laws in the US Congress are considered as major obstacles of a feasible and strong agreement. The largest gas emitter (China) has not yet claimed to do whatever it takes in order to keep temperature from rising more than the threshold of 2o C, while the US Congress will not approve the deal if that is brought to be voted, according to the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. The latter reveals how challenging it is to strike a deal on the matter when “heavy players” such as the US and China are difficult to manoeuvre.

Will large EU corporations help the climate?

The recent sudden letter from the CEOs of a group of six EU oil and gas firms to the UN has come as a surprise. This is the first intervention of the business sector in such a way that raises concerns and second thoughts. This move is strange because companies tend to participate in such meetings as observers and never as live participants.

But what exactly was the “funny” part in their letter? They stated that they want some advice in order to help in the fight against climate change. They further propose reducing the use of coal in electricity in favor of cleaning burning natural gas which would curb carbon emissions. Perhaps carbon does not seem to be currently a good future investment and these investors are trying to get a big slice of the green economy pie.

EU to be the leader

It is not a secret that the EU has been a very good student and promoter of policies against climate change and global warming. The block has so far accomplished to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 19% since 1990 while the economy has grown by 45%. In addition, it has been a champion in climate issues in comparison with the rest UN nations and is currently trying to push forward a tough climate deal that will bind everyone and help the environment effectively recover.

However, it will be harsh to accomplish such an agreement when everyone is trying to promote his own interest. The only thing that the EU can still do is to try to reduce even more its greenhouse gas emissions and provide further financial aid to developing countries in order to tackle this long-lasting issue.

Last but not least, one great chance for the EU to promote the climate change and the goal of 2o C is the G7 summit that is taking place at the end of this week in Germany.

There, the EU leaders are called to persuade their counterparts to come together and take action in view of the COP21/CMP11 next December in Paris.

Follow Chris on Twitter @CAnyfantis

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