European leadership needs to avoid disappointing results in the future

The climate conference in Copenhagen: a disappointment for all actors

All actors in Bel­gium were deeply dis­ap­point­ed by the results of the cli­mate con­fer­ence in Copen­hagen. After so much work, high expec­ta­tions and intense nego­ti­a­tions, both the cli­mate organ­i­sa­tions and the polit­i­cal par­ties hoped to have a bind­ing agree­ment at the end of the con­fer­ence.11La Libre Bel­gique, 14 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.lalibre.be (last access: 9 May 2010); De Stan­daard, 16 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.standaard.be (last access: 6 May 2010). The main Bel­gian cli­mate move­ment claimed that the agreed text is weak and vague, with­out any com­mit­ment, due to the unco­op­er­a­tive atti­tude of Chi­na and the USA, but also to a lack of lead­er­ship from Europe.22La Libre Bel­gique, 19 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.lalibre.be (last access: 9 May 2010); De Mor­gen, 19 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.demorgen.be (last access: 8 May 2010). For the main polit­i­cal par­ties in Bel­gium, the con­fer­ence was a missed oppor­tu­ni­ty. They all declared to be deeply dis­ap­point­ed. The French-speak­ing Greens and the Chris­t­ian-Democ­rats insist­ed on the impor­tance of stay­ing mobilised, where­as the Social­ists stressed the lack of sol­i­dar­i­ty between the North and the South and between indus­tri­alised and devel­op­ing coun­tries.33Le Soir, 19 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.lesoir.be (last access: 8 May 2010); La Libre Bel­gique, 19 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.lalibre.be (last access: 9 May 2010); Eco­lo press release, 19 Decem­ber 2009; cdH (cen­tre démoc­rate human­iste, i.e. French Speak­ing Chris­t­ian Democ­rats), press release, 19 Decem­ber 2009. For the Prime Min­is­ter, Yves Leterme, and the Min­is­ter for Cli­mate and Ener­gy Pol­i­cy, Paul Mag­nette, these weak results are main­ly due to the atti­tude of Chi­na, which did not want to nego­ti­ate or help finance any­thing. But the USA is also to blame: the Bel­gian Prime Min­is­ter declared being deceived by the US propo­si­tions to reduce their CO2 emis­sions by only 4 per­cent by 2020. The strat­e­gy of the EU, on the oth­er hand, was com­plete­ly sup­port­ed by Bel­gium. Indeed, the coun­try ful­ly agreed with the uni­lat­er­al com­mit­ment of the EU to reduce its emis­sions by 20 per­cent by 2020 and sup­ports the posi­tion that the EU can­not be the only actor to set such an ambi­tious tar­get.44La Libre Bel­gique, 16 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.lalibre.be (last access: 9 May 2010); Le Soir, 10 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.lesoir.be (last access: 8 May 2010); De Stan­daard, 10 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.standaard.be (last access: 6 May 2010).

A crucial leadership role for the EU in future negotiations within the UNFCCC

Although dis­ap­point­ed, all actors stressed the cru­cial role of the EU, both inter­nal­ly and at the inter­na­tion­al lev­el. Indeed, they all argued that the EU should con­tin­ue to be ambi­tious in its own tar­gets, and that cli­mate change should remain a top pri­or­i­ty on the agen­da for the com­ing years. The nation­al cli­mate move­ments would even like the EU to com­mit itself to decreas­ing its CO2 emis­sions by 40 per­cent by 2020. But, at the polit­i­cal lev­el, the actors claimed that the EU should keep its com­mit­ment of 20 per­cent and could even­tu­al­ly decrease its emis­sions by 30 per­cent, if oth­er inter­na­tion­al actors also com­mit them­selves to more efforts in terms of cli­mate pol­i­cy.55Le Soir, 18 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.lesoir.be (last access: 8 May 2010).

At the inter­na­tion­al lev­el, Bel­gian actors and, more specif­i­cal­ly, the Open Flem­ish Lib­er­als and Democ­rats (Open Vld) declared that the EU should play a lead­ing role, give a new impulse to the inter­na­tion­al nego­ti­a­tions and make sure a bind­ing agree­ment is reached dur­ing the next cli­mate con­fer­ence at the end of 2010. Bel­gian actors are con­fi­dent that a glob­al agree­ment with the Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC) is the best strat­e­gy to fight cli­mate change, but some com­ple­men­tary mea­sures could also be tak­en. The Bel­gian Min­is­ter for Cli­mate and Ener­gy Pol­i­cy declared, in that respect, that the EU should maybe con­sid­er levy­ing CO2 tax­es on coun­tries that are not will­ing to coop­er­ate in fight­ing cli­mate change.66De Mor­gen, 19 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.demorgen.be (last access: 8 May 2010).

    Footnotes

  • 1La Libre Bel­gique, 14 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.lalibre.be (last access: 9 May 2010); De Stan­daard, 16 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.standaard.be (last access: 6 May 2010).
  • 2La Libre Bel­gique, 19 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.lalibre.be (last access: 9 May 2010); De Mor­gen, 19 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.demorgen.be (last access: 8 May 2010).
  • 3Le Soir, 19 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.lesoir.be (last access: 8 May 2010); La Libre Bel­gique, 19 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.lalibre.be (last access: 9 May 2010); Eco­lo press release, 19 Decem­ber 2009; cdH (cen­tre démoc­rate human­iste, i.e. French Speak­ing Chris­t­ian Democ­rats), press release, 19 Decem­ber 2009.
  • 4La Libre Bel­gique, 16 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.lalibre.be (last access: 9 May 2010); Le Soir, 10 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.lesoir.be (last access: 8 May 2010); De Stan­daard, 10 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.standaard.be (last access: 6 May 2010).
  • 5Le Soir, 18 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.lesoir.be (last access: 8 May 2010).
  • 6De Mor­gen, 19 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.demorgen.be (last access: 8 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.