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What’s the substance behind Europe’s climate rethoric?

Published 02nd October 2009 - 5 comments - 1332 views -

We’re hearing it all the time: Europe sees itself as the world leader on climate change.

José Manuel Barroso, European Commission's President












 But what is the European Union really putting on the negotiating table for Copenhagen?

Two main thoughts come to mind...

Number 1: The EU’s proposed emission reductions are not in line with the science

The EU has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% below 1990 by 2020, or by 30% if a global deal is agreed in Copenhagen that involves other developed countries pledging significant cuts.

Scientists are telling us that to keep the planet below 2°C, rich countries must cut their emmissions at least by 40% below 1990 by 2020.

If global temperatures rise more than 2°C over pre-industrial levels, the climate impact on water resources, food production, sea levels, and ecosystems is predicted to be catastrophic for billions of people, and scientists believe dangerous feedback loops (which trigger spiraling temperatures, increasing much higher much faster) are likely to kick in.


Number 2: The EU is proposing to rob money for schools and hospitals in developing countries to pay for its climate debt

The European Commission is proposing that rich countries should take money from existing promises to increase overseas aid spending to 0.7% of national incomes. This will steal money that would otherwise be spent on education and health projects in poor countries, which will undermine progress towards meeting the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals.

This is scandalous, especially given Europe's responsibility as one of the world's biggest polluters who has caused the problem, and the onus on them to clean up.

It’s now up to EU Member States to come up with a stronger proposal at the European Summit on 29-30 October, to get a good climate deal that does not come at the price of the future development of poorer countries, who are already being hurt by global warming.

Funds to help developing countries to tackle climate change must be additional to aid – not instead of it.


Number 3: (your thoughts)


Number 4: (your thoughts)



Category: Climate Politics, Climate Science, | Tags: europe, money, people, responsibility,


Vanderhaeghen on 02nd October 2009:

I may be a bit too much of a Euro-optimist but I tend to see the EU policy in a brighter light than you.

The EU is indeed world-leader on climate change. Not so long ago climate-sceptisicm was thriving and the most prosperous nation in the world (the US) went along with this, blocking off substantial progress. Yet the EU set ambitious targets to cut carbon emissions quite drastically. It is only recently that Japan set even higher targets (25%). (although the question is whether Japan’s target will be met) 

Achieving 30% emission reductions will be incredibly hard, but 40% is, in the current situation (no worldwide climate change agreement), unachievable in the EU, without cutting in health budgets and employment in Europe.

Politics aside, cutting in hospital & school budget is exactly what you argue against in your second post.

I think your second point drawn from Oxfam’s statement is indeed correct, climate change funds should be additional to development aid. However, the article you quoted also says:

“But diplomats, analysts and campaigners said the proposals were deliberately vague and riddled with problems, potential conflicts and inconsistencies. It is not clear, for example, how much of the EU fund could be diverted from existing aid money to the developing world, reducing the volume of genuinely new funds.”

I do not see a clear proposal from the EU to actually make cuts in the 0.7% norm in the form of cc payments. this is an interpretation/lobbying from Oxfam, not an EU proposal as of now.

It is my belief we need to be correct in reporting on anything. So please correct me if I’m wrong on any point.

Angela Corbalan on 03rd October 2009:

Hi Waldo,

Thanks for your comment.

The European Commission proposed, in its Communication on Climate Financing on 10 September, that “SOME” climate finance can come from the existing 0.7% overseas aid commitment.

The EC is not saying “all” but it is saying “some”. And how much is “some”? The EC does not say it, which is worrying.

My point is that the EU needs to be much clearer about the relationship between Official Development Assistance and climate finance. The current language (“some”) is DANGEROUS. Of course, this is just the European Commission’s opinion. Ongoing negotiations are crucial. The official EU’s position is expected to be agreed, by EU heads of state and government, on 29-30 October.

Vanderhaeghen on 03rd October 2009:

Thank you for the answer. That would be worrying indeed. Do you happen to have the link to the EC communication?

Hope we can take it with a bit of salt. I’ve seen a lot of blufpoker - rhetoric to get countries to sign an advantageous deal in CPH, hope this is part of it.

Daniel on 05th October 2009:

I don’t know one are where I am pleased with the EU’s policies… anyway my number 3 would be:“The EU actively crush small scale farming and fishing in and outside the union”

The agricultural subsidies tied to area create massive farms, low prices, poor eco-systems and long transports. I do not trust the EU not to dump suprplusses in foreign market, killing local agriculture in places like Africa, and making these countries dependent on imports and CO2consuming transports.

This is exactly what is happening in fishing -  the EU uses its powerful position to buy fishing rights for industrial fisheries outside West Africa, efficiently destroying the livelyhood for the local communities.

Angela Corbalan on 10th October 2009:

Here’s the link to the EC press release re the paper on climate financing, issued in September

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