European Commission launches its climate talks rescue plan

European Commission proposals for advancing post-Copenhagen climate talks, launched today, were welcomed by Oxfam International. However the international agency said that while the EC had thrown a spotlight on emissions reduction loopholes in the Copenhagen Accord – the political agreement brokered at the UN Climate Summit in December – it had ignored major loopholes on climate finance.

The EC report said a combination low targets and loopholes – including the use of spare carbon emissions permits left after the collapse of the Soviet Union and loose rules on accounting for emissions from agriculture and deforestation – mean that the emissions reduction targets submitted under the Accord will not keep temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius.

“The European Commission has pointed out the elephant in the room – lackluster targets and loopholes mean the emissions reduction pledges made under the Copenhagen Accord will not deliver on the Accord's main goal – to keep global warming below 2 degrees,” said Tim Gore, Climate Advisor for Oxfam International. “Poor countries have announced strong actions to control their emissions. Unless developed countries scale up their emissions reductions targets and close the loopholes we face a four degree world which could leave four billion people facing water shortages by the end of the century,” said Gore.

Loopholes on climate finance

However the EC has ignored the loopholes which mean rich countries can raid aid budgets or rely on unpredictable private sector finance flows to meet their climate finance commitments. Oxfam welcomed the Commission’s support for a new finance-raising instrument linked to international aviation and shipping, which could predictably raise up to $30bn per year in genuinely new and additional finance but called for developed countries to provide at least $200bn a year in new and predictable public finance to help poor countries adapt to a changing climate and reduce their emissions.

Closing emissions loopholes is only half the job. The EU must lead the world in exposing and closing the loopholes on climate finance. The proposal for raising funds from international aviation and shipping is a welcome sign that there could be some genuinely new money in the mix. However poor countries need concrete assurances that the money provided by the EU is one hundred percent new money – not recycled aid commitments,” said Gore.

Towards a binding deal

The EC report also reaffirmed its commitment to a legally binding climate treaty but acknowledged that political differences mean that it is unlikely a global climate deal will be signed at the next UN climate Summit in Mexico at the end of the year, and may have to wait until a meeting in South Africa in 2011.

“It is good to know the EC is still backing a legally binding deal, which we need as soon as possible, but crossing its fingers and hoping for the best is not going to deliver one. Europe needs a clear strategy for reaching a legally binding deal. It should start by publicly backing a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol – the best starting point we have for a fair, ambitious and binding deal,” said Gore.

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