EU leaders meeting in Brussels are under pressure to give the UN climate talks in Copenhagen a firm signal of their commitment to tackling global warming. The EU sees itself as a world leader in this area, having pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020, compared with 1990 levels. A higher target of 30% has been suggested – but only if similar pledges are made by other industrialised powers.
Sweden, chairing its last EU summit, has dismissed speculation that the EU could offer 30% as an incentive to get a really ambitious global deal at Copenhagen. In the current turbulent economic conditions the 30% figure is widely seen as over-optimistic. The environmental group WWF wants the EU leaders to commit to “at least 30%”. But in an open letter to Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, the powerful lobby group Business Europe, representing major industrial concerns, urged the EU not to go above 20%. And Poland’s EU Affairs Minister, Mikolaj Dowgielewicz, has said the EU must not go above 20% without an “impact assessment”.
The EU summit conclusions are unlikely to call for a legally binding agreement in Copenhagen – something that was long touted as a goal but is now looking increasingly remote.
Now, the EU is talking about achieving a global climate agreement by mid-2010. It will succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.