Europe has to stay on track

Europe needs to stand by its current reduction objective

With few excep­tions, the result of the Copen­hagen con­fer­ence, more exact­ly the con­tent of the agree­ment, is seen as mod­er­ate progress, giv­en the lim­i­ta­tions of the doc­u­ment, name­ly the “polit­i­cal char­ac­ter of the pro­vi­sions, the min­i­mal com­pro­mise ten­den­cy and the lack of any for­mal­ly assumed oblig­a­tions by the main car­bon gas pol­luters.”11Radu Dudău: Acor­dul de la Copen­haga: ceva mai mult decât nim­ic“, Pol­i­cy Brief, IDR, no. 19, Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.idr.ro/publicatii/policy%20brief%2019.pdf (last access: 14 July 2010). On a more pos­i­tive note, Radu Dudău, the author of a pol­i­cy brief deal­ing with this top­ic, remarks – in spite of the seri­ous defi­cien­cies of the for­mat of the con­fer­ence nego­ti­a­tions, which have high­light­ed struc­tur­al gaps between actors from devel­oped coun­tries and those from emerg­ing economies in terms of con­crete argu­ments brought to the table – “in the near future, sig­na­to­ry states will have to go through with the polit­i­cal promis­es assumed.”22Ibid.

The Roman­ian media has empha­sised the neces­si­ty to main­tain the fun­da­men­tal goal of a 30 per­cent reduc­tion in green­house gas emis­sions as well as the diplo­mat­ic strug­gle among the major inter­na­tion­al actors involved in nego­ti­a­tions. One of the cen­tral issues of the Copen­hagen con­fer­ence held in Decem­ber 2009 was find­ing out whether a sec­ond com­mit­ment peri­od of the Kyoto Pro­to­col or the cre­ation of a com­plete­ly new treaty, of which the Unit­ed States would be a part as well, was nec­es­sary.33Medi­afax: Atmos­feră ten­sion­ată la Con­fer­inţa de la Copen­haga, unde chiar şi sigla provoacă diver­genţe, 9 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.mediafax.ro/externe/atmosfera-tensionata-la-conferinta-de-la-copenhaga-unde-chiar-si-sigla-provoaca-divergente-5167876 (last access: 18 May 2010). Mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment (MEP) Karl-Heinz Flo­renz, vice-pres­i­dent of the par­lia­men­tar­i­an del­e­ga­tion to Copen­hagen, con­sid­ers the USA and Chi­na as the key nego­tia­tors at the moment: “A prob­lem is the fact that [the] G77 does not speak with one voice.”44Euro­pean Par­lia­ment: One day to go at Copen­hagen COP15: Can the world deliv­er?, 17 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+IM-PRESS+20091211STO66325+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN (last access: 19 May 2010). Jo Leinen, the pres­i­dent of the par­lia­men­tar­i­an del­e­ga­tion to Copen­hagen, con­sid­ers that the EU needs to stand by its already assumed objec­tives to com­bat cli­mate change in order to main­tain its cred­i­bil­i­ty as a major voice on the inter­na­tion­al scene: “Cut­ting down the objec­tive of 30 per­cent will ques­tion the Euro­pean Union’s leader sta­tus in the nego­ti­a­tions and encour­age oth­er coun­tries to reduce their own objec­tives.”55Ibid.

Greater independency from traditional energy sources

The EU’s inte­grat­ed pol­i­cy on ener­gy and cli­mate change, adopt­ed in Decem­ber 2008, is still very much a major sub­ject of analy­sis in Roman­ian soci­ety, but the reform of Euro­pean ener­gy pol­i­cy is gen­er­al­ly tack­led as sep­a­rate from the frame­work of the inter­na­tion­al nego­ti­a­tions, except for the episode of the Copen­hagen con­fer­ence. The Euro­pean ener­gy pol­i­cy is dis­cussed from the per­spec­tive of the neces­si­ty to con­sid­er­ably reform ener­gy pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion so as to stay in line with the assumed com­mit­ments of com­bat­ing cli­mate change. A reformed EU ener­gy pol­i­cy should there­fore strive to achieve greater inde­pen­den­cy from tra­di­tion­al ener­gy sources such as import­ed oil and gas, ensure access to more diverse forms of renew­able ener­gy and less expo­sure to unsta­ble ener­gy prices and ener­gy deliv­er­ies.66Revista 22: Iniţia­tivele UE de com­bat­ere a schim­bărilor cli­mat­ice, 14 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.revista22.ro/ini355iativele-ue-de-combatere-a-schimb259rilor-climatice-7778.html (last access: 19 May 2010).

The Euro­pean Union needs to con­cen­trate on devel­op­ing the cur­rent ener­gy infra­struc­ture (gas and oil pipelines as well as elec­tric­i­ty lines), as well as con­tin­u­al­ly adapt­ing it in order to be com­pat­i­ble with renew­able ener­gies. The EU’s ener­gy strat­e­gy requires addi­tion­al efforts to enhance ener­gy effi­cien­cy, diver­si­fy ener­gy resources, cor­rect the behav­iour of Euro­pean ener­gy con­sumers and con­sol­i­date inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion on these issues.77Ibid.

A global binding agreement is the key

The Roman­ian media main­ly focus­es on a glob­al agree­ment with legal­ly bind­ing com­mit­ments as the best strat­e­gy with­in the Unit­ed Nations Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC) in order to fight cli­mate change, and, to a less­er extent, devel­op alter­na­tive strate­gies which the Euro­pean Union might adopt. A bind­ing agree­ment for all coun­tries is the main objec­tive of nego­ti­a­tions, which are to be held in 2010 in Mex­i­co, once the Unit­ed States adopts the nec­es­sary leg­is­la­tion to set a final tar­get and a roadmap for the reduc­tion of green­house gas emis­sions.88Livia Cim­poeru: Sce­nar­iu posi­bil pen­tru Copen­haga, 17 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.green-report.ro/stiri/pscenariu-posibil-pentru-copenhagap (last access: 19 May 2010).

The alter­na­tive strate­gies dis­cussed in the media are strong­ly inspired by those pro­posed by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion in order to reach the assumed reduc­tion tar­gets and include greater invest­ment in devel­op­ing low car­bon emis­sions tech­nolo­gies, espe­cial­ly in devel­op­ing coun­tries; inter­na­tion­al­ly-fund­ed inno­v­a­tive sources; and the estab­lish­ment of an inter­na­tion­al car­bon mar­ket by 2015.

For Romania, a 20 percent reduction is a realistic objective

Despite pre­vi­ous state­ments made by Roman­ian Pres­i­dent Bases­cu with regard to pur­su­ing the ambi­tious 30 per­cent reduc­tion tar­get,99Robert Mihăiles­cu: Tra­ian Bases­cu despre con­fer­in­ta Copen­haga: susţinem fără rez­erve reduc­erea cu 30% a emisi­ilor de car­bon, Revista 22, 16 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.revista22.ro/traian-basescu-despre-conferinta-copenhaga-sustinem-fara-rezerve-reduc-7786.html (last access: 17 May 2010). recent doc­u­ments issued by the Depart­ment for Euro­pean Affairs point out that, for the moment, Roma­nia may stand by an objec­tive no greater than 20 per­cent.1010Depart­ment for Euro­pean Affairs: Doc­u­ment de fun­da­mentare pen­tru sta­bilirea la niv­el naţion­al a val­o­rilor de refer­inţă ale obiec­tivelor Strate­giei Europa 2020, 12 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.dae.gov.ro/admin/files/Tinta%20reducere%20gaze%20cu%20efect%20de%20sera.pdf (last access: 19 May 2010). The Roman­ian head of state also con­sid­ers that the finan­cial bur­den needs to be shared most­ly by high­ly devel­oped coun­tries and the great­est pol­luters. Refer­ring to actu­al costs involved by the imple­men­ta­tion of the reduc­tion objec­tives, “the quo­ta per­tain­ing to Roma­nia involves addi­tion­al costs but I believe these costs will gen­er­ate ben­e­fits for Roma­ni­ans, as we sub­scribe this car­bon emis­sions’ reduc­tion pol­i­cy to a mod­ern­iza­tion trend [of Roma­nia].”1111Ibid.

As far as financ­ing mit­i­ga­tion is con­cerned, the focus is on explor­ing mech­a­nisms which finance the reduc­tion of gas emis­sions as well as clean tech­nolo­gies. The lat­ter mech­a­nism is aimed at accel­er­at­ing the imple­men­ta­tion of clean ener­gies or low-car­bon emis­sions in devel­op­ing coun­tries.1212Comisia Euro­peană: Acţi­u­ni inter­naţionale, 18 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/campaign/what/fightingcc_ro.htm (last access: 19 May 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained therein.