Europe sets out plans for Copenhagen climate conference

The European Commission published plans on Wednesday for December’s Copenhagen climate conference which aims to agree on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol

As expected, the Commission commits to a 30% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 relative to 1990, and much greater funding for research and development provided other developed countries engage.

It also calls for linking of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme with other cap and trade schemes to enhance stability and efficiency of the global carbon market. Environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said these would help raise the €175 billion needed by 2020 for clean technologies. “No money, no deal” he said.

More controversially, it also calls for far more engagement from richer developing countries such as Brazil and Mexico on reducing emissions. The EU wants to see their emissions restrained to 15-30% below business-as-usual. Some such as Mexico have already proposed targets and initiatives for national emissions reduction, but the proposal is bound to be controversial with others.

On finance, the proposal says the EU is prepared to contribute to mitigation and adaptation action by developing countries, but only if they have prepared national low carbon development strategies.

It says developed country contributions could be based on a combination of the polluter pays principle and ability to pay, or by auction of a given portion of their emissions allowances. The second would be more complicated and funding levels uncertain.

The EU is also calling for fundamental changes to the Clean Development Mechanism through which developed country signatories to the Protocol can gain carbon credits by financing greenhouse gas mitigation projects in developing countries.

It wants to see only projects that deliver genuinely additional reductions in emissions, and that go beyond the lowest cost options. CDM projects in richer developing countries, it says, should be phased out in favour of carbon market crediting mechanisms.

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