Statement by FOEI: Demand for EU commitments
Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Where Is The European Union Leading Us?

Instead of leading the world to deeper emission reductions, the EU is leading the world to climate catastrophe. The EU must commit to a second commitment period with at least 40% emissions reductions target and no loopholes or carbon markets. The EU must also keep the Kyoto-track alive for subsequent periods. Several studies confirm that the current weak pledges will result in 5 degrees of warming, leading to climate catastrophe around the world.

The EU's call for a new mandate for a new treaty in place of the Kyoto Protocol should be understood for what it really is – rich countries backtracking and reneging on inconvenient obligations, at the expense of the poor and the planet. A Durban mandate to launch a new round of negotiations will cause unacceptable delays, lock in low ambition and may result in a weak, ineffective system of voluntary emissions reduction pledges.

Studies show that emission cuts pledged by developing nations are higher than those made by developed countries. Emissions from China and other developing nations should not be used as an excuse for inaction and for the EU to pull away from the Kyoto Protocol.

Lack of Leadership on the Kyoto Protocol

The EU claims to be ready to tackle climate change and wants to be seen as the leader who saves the planet, the people and the international climate talks. To be considered a leader, the EU must recognise its historical responsibility and act appropriately. This means adopting a second commitment period of the KP with targets according to science and equity and no offsetting or loopholes. The lack of movement from other developed countries, particularly the US, must not be used as a smokescreen for the EU to hide its own lack of political will. Nor can the EU condition fulfilment of its legal and moral obligation to reduce emissions and provide financing on actions by developing countries.

A new mandate to escape its obligations?

Despite not having implemented the existing mandate agreed to four years ago in Bali, many developed countries are calling for a new mandate to launch negotiations for a new legally binding treaty that will include legally binding obligations for major economies. Agreeing to a new mandate to launch a new round of negotiations could mean action is effectively delayed for five to ten years. A new treaty will take several years to negotiate with several more years needed for ratification. There is no assurance that countries that have repudiated the existing legal architecture, like the United States, will agree to or ratify a new agreement.

At the same time, the EU has indicated it may agree to a "political" second commitment period, with only a CMP decision or political declaration. Anything less than a formal legal amendment and ratification process, will deliver an empty shell of the Kyoto Protocol.

Many developed countries seek to replace the Kyoto Protocol with weaker "pledge and review" system. Under this system, developed countries weaken their commitments by only doing what is politically feasible for them at home, and will not abide by binding, common international rules. This is grossly insufficient in the face of the climate crisis and there is no certainty that a new mandate will not result in this kind of weak, ineffective system.

Developed countries appear progressive by asking for a legally binding treaty or the mandate for one, when the real truth is that they are violating the current legally binding regime, shifting the goalpost agreed in the Bali Roadmap, and reneging on agreements for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Developing country climate action outpaces wealthy world

The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) examined recently four detailed studies on mitigation pledges under the Cancun Agreements and came to an astonishing result: Developing countries pledges by far outweigh pledges by developed countries. Even more shocking, given accounting loopholes and the use of carbon markets, developed countries could make no net contribution to reducing emissions by 2020. It's more than time for the EU and other developed countries to deliver and scale up ambitions and stop blaming other countries who have contributed far less to the climate crisis, yet are taking on more aggressive action.