EU strengthens its leadership on climate

After lengthy and difficult negotiations, the EU Member States have reached agreement. The difficult question of ‘climate financing’ has been resolved and the EU’s climate package is thus complete. At the summit’s closing press conference, a delighted Fredrik Reinfeldt noted that the EU has a strong mandate for negotiation ahead of the climate change conference in Copenhagen in December.

Following the agreement at the summit, the EU’s climate package is now complete ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference. The EU countries were already agreed on aspects such as technology transfer, adaptation, mitigation and good governance before the summit. The thorny issue of ‘climate financing’ was all that remained to be resolved.

“We have lived up to the Swedish Presidency’s slogan: taking on the challenge. Now we have a climate package and a negotiating position ready for Copenhagen”, said Fredrik Reinfeldt.

So what does the issue of climate financing involve? Earlier in the autumn the European Commission presented its figure of EUR 100 million. The Commission had calculated that this is how much money the world’s developing nations will need annually for the next ten years in order to be able to pay for their adaptations to climate change. Furthermore, the Commission estimated that the developing countries will require an extra injection of funding to get going: EUR 5–7 billion annually from 2010 to 2012.

For a long time, many of the EU Member States were sceptical about the figures and after the initial discussion on climate change at the European Council’s first working session yesterday evening, the EU leaders decided it was best that they sleep on the matter. However, today they managed to come to an agreement and support the Commission’s estimates.

The heads of state and government have also agreed that almost half, or 22–50 billion, of that sum should come from international public funding. On Friday they stressed that the EU will take its fair share of this, on the condition that other countries also contribute. In addition, the EU leaders reached an agreement on internal burden sharing, where there have long been major differences of opinion within the Union.

“I would like to thank all my colleagues for their constructive work and for this compromise that we have succeeded in reaching. The EU maintains its leading position on climate change and we are now in a very strong position ahead of the Copenhagen conference. We hope that this will encourage more countries to follow suit”, said Fredrik Reinfeldt.

President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso called the agreement an important breakthrough.

“Now we can look the rest of the world in the eye and say that we Europeans have done our job. We have a clear mandate ahead of Copenhagen and an ambitious climate package. On Tuesday next week Fredrik Reinfeldt and I will meet the President of the USA. We will be able to take this with us and say, ‘we are ready. Let us make Copenhagen a success’”, said Mr Barroso.

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