Recently, a high level Japanese delegation visited Brussels to discuss environmental co-operation. One of the guests confided in a Commission colleague: `The technical parts of the climate negotiations are so complicated. Can´t we do more on common policy measures to achieve clearer results? ´
It is easy to understand the feeling. Negotiations within the climate convention are technically complicated and are proceeding extremely slowly.
An agreement at the December meeting in Copenhagen is the most important goal for the Swedish EU Presidency. But dark clouds are gathering.
Few rich countries have matched the EU commitments for 2020. Growing economies like China and India have still not made robust promises on limiting carbon emissions. The declaration from the G8 Summit in Italy did not provide enough momentum. Setting targets for 2050 and making promises on limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees C is not enough.
Swedish negotiators are also worried that the United States will not move fast enough this autumn. Barack Obama has to devote so much energy to the fight over health care reform.
The Commission proposal on financing last Thursday will not be enough to bridge the gap between developing and developed countries. It has already been criticized for not containing enough money and not being additional to earlier promises to increase development aid. When EU leaders meet for the informal European Council on Thursday they will discuss the financing in light of the upcoming G20 meeting in Pittsburgh. More needs to be done.
Financing is one key issue, mid-term emission targets another. The risk is that Fredrik Reinfeldt is so eager for a deal in Copenhagen that the Swedish Presidency does not put enough pressure on rich countries to agree robust emission targets. There is a risk than intense corporate lobbying for only setting long-term targets puts negotiations on the more important 2020 targets off track. If there is only a preliminary agreement in December, it must at least contain a commitment to agree targets for the rich countries during the spring of 2010.
It´s time also to put forward more ideas on `policies and measures´, as the term is in the climate convention. The Japanese visitor to Brussels was right. The Swedish Presidency should push both for 2020 emissions targets and for agreements on issues such as energy efficiency standards and renewable energy. Co-operating with the new, environmentally progressive, Japanese government is a promising way forward.