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European Commission Communication: Towards a comprehensive climate change agreement in Copenhagen

On 28 January 2009, the European Commission published a Communication setting out concrete proposals for action by the EU and the rest of the international community with the aim of limiting the global average temperature rise to less than 2°C above the pre-industrial level.

The key points of the Communication, to be discussed by the European Council in March, can be summarised as follows:

The key points can be summarised as follows:
- Developed countries should continue to take the lead in international efforts to fight climate change. The EU has already proposed that developed countries should commit to cutting their GHG emissions, as a group, to an average of 30% below 1990 levels by 2020 under the Copenhagen agreement. The Communication sets out criteria that should be taken into account when setting national reduction targets to ensure comparable contributions by each developed country to this overall effort.
- Developing countries as a group should limit growth in their GHG emissions to 15-30% below business as usual levels by 2020. To enable them to do so, developing countries, except the least developed, should commit to putting forward national low carbon development strategies, covering action in all key emitting sectors, by the end of 2011. These plans will provide the basis for discussion at international level of the adequacy of the proposed actions and of external financial support for them where needed.
- Emissions from international aviation and shipping, which are not covered by the Kyoto Protocol, should be included in the overall targets of the new agreement.
- The Copenhagen agreement should also provide a framework to help countries adapt to inevitable climate change. All developed and developing countries should be required to develop comprehensive national adaptation strategies. Financial and technological support should be provided to the most vulnerable developing countries.
- A major boost to research, development and demonstration (RD&D) of low-carbon and adaptation technologies is needed in all sectors. Global energy-related RD&D should be at least doubled by 2012 and quadrupled by 2020.
- To reduce global emissions it is estimated that net additional investment worldwide will need to rise to around €175 billion per year by 2020, more than half of this in developing countries. Public and private sources of external support to developing countries will need to be provided in the context of the Copenhagen agreement. The public contribution of each developed country should be fair and comparable and should be negotiated as part of the deal. The Communication identifies options for creating innovative additional international financing sources.
-  The EU should seek to build, by 2015, a robust OECD-wide carbon market through the linking of the EU emissions trading system with comparable domestic cap-and-trade systems in the US, Australia and other developed countries. As a first step the Commission aims to set up an EU-US working group to share experience on designing domestic emissions trading systems. Over time developing countries should also implement domestic trading systems so the OECD-wide market could be expanded to all major emitting countries by 2020.
- Kyoto’s Clean Development Mechanism should be reformed, while for advanced developing countries and highly competitive economic sectors it should be phased out and replaced by a crediting mechanism covering whole sectors.

NGO reactions

“The Commission has come up with a decent blueprint, but has shown it is unable to put its euros where its mouth is and support credible amounts of aid to prevent a global climate catastrophe. It is now up to EU environment and finance ministers to improve this proposal back it up with financial commitments that will help prevent serious economic and social disasters caused by climate change,” said Joris den Blanken, Greenpeace EU climate & energy policy director.

Esther Bollendorff, climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: “These plans lack cash and real credibility. Europe continues to fail to live up to its historical obligations for causing climate change and jeopardises the chances of a satisfactory solution to the climate crisis. Europe accounts for 30 per cent of developed countries emissions and 22 per cent of global GDP – for these reasons it must live up to its responsibilities and commit to adequate action at home.”

For more information:
- Read the European Commission press release

- Read HEAL, WWF and CAN Europe report The co-benefits to health of a strong EU climate change policy

Last updated on 18 May 2011

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