Wrong EU tactics: Copenhagen only the beginning of a long process

Copenhagen conference failed to reach expectations

While look­ing for­ward to the next con­fer­ence on cli­mate change (the six­teenth Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties (COP) and the sixth Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties serv­ing as the meet­ing of the Par­ties to the Kyoto Pro­to­col (CMP)) at the end of Novem­ber 2010, the Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs of the Repub­lic of Slove­nia assessed the con­fer­ence in Copen­hagen as the begin­ning of a long process. Even though the con­fer­ence end­ed with­out a legal­ly bind­ing agree­ment on joint action on cli­mate change and there­fore failed to reach glob­al and also Slovenia’s expec­ta­tions, it can lay the foun­da­tion for a com­pre­hen­sive agree­ment. There­fore, it is even more impor­tant that, in the future, mem­ber states announce their com­mit­ments and show their polit­i­cal will and matu­ri­ty in order to cre­ate an effi­cient glob­al envi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment plan: “We can no longer afford to hes­i­tate. The con­se­quences of cli­mate change will have dev­as­tat­ing effects on devel­op­ment, the elim­i­na­tion of pover­ty, health care and secu­ri­ty, and the polit­i­cal sta­bil­i­ty of coun­tries and regions. With­out time­ly and joint action, the costs of the con­se­quences of cli­mate change will great­ly exceed the costs relat­ed to green­house gas emis­sions.”11Min­istry of For­eign Affairs: Press state­ment by the Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs, Samuel Žbog­ar, on the Copen­hagen Sum­mit, 22 Decem­ber 2010, avail­able at: http://www.mzz.gov.si/nc/en/tools/cns/news/article/6/%2026391/36746f22d9/ (last access: 15 May 2010).

The For­mer Min­is­ter for Envi­ron­ment and Spa­tial Plan­ning, Karl Erjavec, was dis­ap­point­ed with the agree­ment reached in Copen­hagen, since it lacks legal­ly bind­ing tar­gets, is not ambi­tious enough and is too gen­er­al. Regard­ing the EU’s nego­ti­a­tion strat­e­gy, he believed that the EU adopt­ed the wrong tac­tics for nego­ti­a­tions in Copen­hagen. Although the EU was sup­posed to be the most impor­tant actor in the con­fer­ence; it was basi­cal­ly invis­i­ble.22STA: Erjavec: Koben­havn demokratič­na anarhi­ja; tak­ti­ka EU napač­na (Erjavec: Copen­hagen is demo­c­ra­t­ic anar­chy: the EU tac­tic is mis­guid­ed), 22 Decem­ber 2010, avail­able at: http://www.sta.si/vest.php?s=s&id=1462739&q=ERJAV+RAZO %C4%8CAR (last access: 16 May 2010). Accord­ing to Karl Erjavec, the EU’s nego­ti­a­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion strat­e­gy has to change, espe­cial­ly regard­ing the USA and Chi­na. In order for the EU to main­tain its cred­i­bil­i­ty, more bilat­er­al meet­ings have to be con­duct­ed with both the most and the least devel­oped coun­tries since the mul­ti­lat­er­al sum­mits will not be effi­cient oth­er­wise due to diver­gent inter­ests. How­ev­er, some improve­ment is seen and the agree­ment can serve as a good basis for future nego­ti­a­tions.33STA: Erjavec: EU mora spre­meni­ti pod­neb­no tak­tiko glede ZDA in Kita­jske (Erjavec: EU must change cli­mate tac­tic con­cern­ing USA and Chi­na), 16 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.sta.si/vest.php?s=s&id=1469925 (last access: 15 May 2010).

The Sloven­ian Foun­da­tion for Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment, Uman­otera,44The Sloven­ian Foun­da­tion for Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment – Uman­otera: Sporoči­lo za javnost ob zaključku pod­neb­nih poga­janj v Koeben­havnu (Press release at the end of the cli­mate nego­ti­a­tions in Copen­hagen), 19 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.umanotera.org/index.php?node=178 (last access: 15 May 2010). sees the Copen­hagen Accord as emp­ty and lack­ing sub­stance. More­over, not only are the goals not ambi­tious enough, but nei­ther glob­al nor nation­al tar­gets for reduc­ing emis­sions of green­house gas­es are deter­mined. Accord­ing to Uman­otera, the agree­ment does not meet glob­al expec­ta­tions and world lead­ers did not jus­ti­fy the public’s trust. It has shown that the com­mon goal of pre­vent­ing dan­ger­ous cli­mate change does not suf­fice against the pow­er of indi­vid­ual nation­al inter­ests and the degree of dis­trust between states; mean­while, the time for action is expir­ing. Accord­ing to Green­peace Slove­nia, one of the rea­sons for a weak agree­ment is the unwill­ing­ness of the EU to use its polit­i­cal pow­er to lead coun­tries into accept­ing legal­ly bind­ing tar­gets.55STA: Nad dogov­orom v Koeben­havnu razočarane tudi nevladne orga­ni­zaci­je. (NGOs also dis­ap­point­ed with the agree­ment in Copen­hagen), 19 Decem­ber 2010, avail­able at: http://www.sta.si/vest.php?s=r&id=1461744&pr=1 (last access: 18 May 2010).

The Sloven­ian pub­lic is also scep­ti­cal about the Copen­hagen Accord; 85 per­cent of peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ing in the sur­vey made on Sloven­ian nation­al tele­vi­sion believe that it will not help to reduce pol­lu­tion due to the fact that it is not legal­ly bind­ing. This demon­strates that the pub­lic in Slove­nia expects legal oblig­a­tions and not only promis­es.66Mmc.rtvslo.si: Anke­ta (Sur­vey), 26. Decem­ber 2010, avail­able at: http://www.rtvslo.si/modload.php&c_mod=poll&op=polls& func=list&c_menu=23&c_parent=23&page=4 (last access: 15 May 2010).

EU energy and climate policy

Accord­ing to the Gov­ern­ment Office of the Repub­lic of Slove­nia of Cli­mate Changes,77Jernej Stri­tih, Direc­tor of the Gov­ern­ment Office of the Repub­lic of Slove­nia of Cli­mate Changes: Writ­ten com­ments to the EU-27 Watch Ques­tion­naire 2010. the EU ener­gy and cli­mate pol­i­cy is among the most advanced in the world; there­fore, its change by itself will not pro­vide a major boost to inter­na­tion­al nego­ti­a­tions. The main rea­sons for the cur­rent impasse in nego­ti­a­tions lie out­side the EU. The USA does not yet have a domes­tic legal base enabling for a com­pre­hen­sive glob­al and legal­ly bind­ing agree­ment. In addi­tion to this, the lev­el of trust between the devel­op­ing and devel­oped coun­tries is very low. One of the rea­sons is that not all devel­oped coun­tries acknowl­edge their his­toric respon­si­bil­i­ty for green­house gas emis­sions and their con­se­quences. With­in the cur­rent pol­i­cy, the EU still has the pos­si­bil­i­ty to increase its 2020 emis­sion reduc­tion tar­get from 20 to 30 per­cent in order to moti­vate oth­er coun­tries to set com­pa­ra­ble tar­gets. What the EU may want to change is the posi­tion of the sec­ond com­mit­ment peri­od of the Kyoto pro­to­col. Since a glob­al­ly com­pre­hen­sive legal­ly bind­ing agree­ment is not very like­ly in the next few years, the pos­si­bil­i­ty of extend­ing the Kyoto Pro­to­col beyond 2012 should be kept open. This would improve the lev­el of trust in rela­tion to the devel­op­ing coun­tries and put pres­sure on the USA.88Ibid.

The global agreement within UNFCCC assessed as the best strategy

“Glob­al agree­ment with­in the Unit­ed Nations Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC) is the best option to secur­ing glob­al com­bat against cli­mate change based on the prin­ci­ple of shared but dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed respon­si­bil­i­ty.”99Ibid. How­ev­er, the Copen­hagen Sum­mit has shown that such an agree­ment may take more time and may not reach the lev­el of effort required to sta­bilise cli­mate change at the tem­per­a­ture increase of 2°C. There­fore, in order to improve inter­na­tion­al and bilat­er­al coop­er­a­tion, speed up the imple­men­ta­tion of cli­mate mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion mea­sures, and in turn facil­i­tate the achieve­ment of a glob­al agree­ment, alter­na­tive strate­gies need to be pur­sued. One such strat­e­gy is to per­form well on the fast start financ­ing agreed on in Copen­hagen and to devel­op coop­er­a­tion on mea­sures with inter­est­ed coun­tries. A good exam­ple of this is the Sloven­ian par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Paris-Oslo process on Reduc­ing Emis­sions from Defor­esta­tion and Degra­da­tion (REDD) and the West­ern Balka­ns Forum on Cli­mate Change.1010Ibid.

Accord­ing to Luč­ka Kajfež Bogataj,1111Mlad­i­na: Inter­vju: Luč­ka Kajfež Bogataj, kli­ma­tologin­ja (Inter­view: Luč­ka Kajfež Bogataj, cli­ma­tol­o­gist), 7 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.mladina.si/tednik/200901/dr__lucka_kajfez_bogataj__klimatologinja (last access: 18 May 2010). a renowned Sloven­ian cli­ma­tol­o­gist, one of the rea­sons for the fail­ure of the con­fer­ence in Copen­hagen is that the Kyoto idea itself has died. The con­cept of bind­ing reduc­tion goals that are super­vised by the UN is out­dat­ed because the glob­al econ­o­my is so inter­twined. “Today, almost half of the emis­sions that are caused by Chi­na go at the expense of man­u­fac­tur­ing prod­ucts for the West­ern world. How can we then pre­scribe Chi­na to cut its emis­sions, if we are caus­ing them with our demand?”1212Ibid. How­ev­er, she believes that it is bet­ter to fight cli­mate change in a glob­al con­text, i.e., in the con­text of the UN, than to let coun­tries set their own tar­gets.

Financial assistance has to be available to the developing countries

The sum­mit con­firmed the sub­stan­tial dif­fer­ences in the views and nego­ti­at­ing posi­tions between the devel­oped and the devel­op­ing coun­tries. Some of the fast-grow­ing economies lacked the nec­es­sary under­stand­ing for the less-devel­oped coun­tries, where the con­se­quences of cli­mate change mean no less than the dif­fer­ence between their exis­tence and dis­ap­pear­ance.1313Min­istry of For­eign Affairs: Press state­ment by the Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs, Samuel Žbog­ar, on the Copen­hagen Sum­mit, 22 Decem­ber 2010, avail­able at: http://www.mzz.gov.si/nc/en/tools/cns/news/article/6/%2026391/36746f22d9/ (last access: 15 May 2010). The posi­tion of the Min­istry for Envi­ron­ment and Spa­tial Plan­ning on financ­ing mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion efforts in devel­op­ing coun­tries is that the mea­sures for reduc­ing emis­sions in the frame­work of the glob­al cli­mate agree­ment have to be based on the his­tor­i­cal respon­si­bil­i­ty for the emis­sions of green­house gas­es and the finan­cial capa­bil­i­ty of indi­vid­ual states. For the reduc­tion of glob­al emis­sions to be suc­cess­ful, it is nec­es­sary that the devel­op­ing coun­tries also lim­it and lat­er on reduce their emis­sions. How­ev­er, it needs to be tak­en into account that the devel­oped states are the ones most respon­si­ble for the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and, there­fore, have to bear the great­est bur­den. The finan­cial and tech­no­log­i­cal assis­tance along with the assis­tance for build­ing capac­i­ties has to be assured to the devel­op­ing coun­tries and this help has to be suf­fi­cient and pre­dictable. The EU as an enti­ty has to con­tribute its fair share to this assis­tance accord­ing to two cri­te­ria: the capa­bil­i­ty of pay­ment and the share of emis­sions. Slove­nia is also sup­port­ive for the ear­li­er financ­ing, i.e., before the begin­ning of the sec­ond com­mit­ment peri­od (2010–2012).1414Min­istry for Envi­ron­ment and Spa­tial Plan­ning: Stal­išča Repub­like Sloveni­je za kon­fer­en­co o pod­neb­nih spre­mem­bah v Koeben­havnu od 7. do 18. decem­bra 2009 (Posi­tion of the Repub­lic of Slove­nia on the con­fer­ence on cli­mate change in Copen­hagen from 7 to 18 Decem­ber), avail­able at: http://www.vlada.si/fileadmin/dokumenti/si/projekti/2009/podnebne/ konferenca_kopenhagen_stalisca_Slovenije.pdf (last access: 15 May 2010).

    Footnotes

  • 1Min­istry of For­eign Affairs: Press state­ment by the Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs, Samuel Žbog­ar, on the Copen­hagen Sum­mit, 22 Decem­ber 2010, avail­able at: http://www.mzz.gov.si/nc/en/tools/cns/news/article/6/%2026391/36746f22d9/ (last access: 15 May 2010).
  • 2STA: Erjavec: Koben­havn demokratič­na anarhi­ja; tak­ti­ka EU napač­na (Erjavec: Copen­hagen is demo­c­ra­t­ic anar­chy: the EU tac­tic is mis­guid­ed), 22 Decem­ber 2010, avail­able at: http://www.sta.si/vest.php?s=s&id=1462739&q=ERJAV+RAZO %C4%8CAR (last access: 16 May 2010).
  • 3STA: Erjavec: EU mora spre­meni­ti pod­neb­no tak­tiko glede ZDA in Kita­jske (Erjavec: EU must change cli­mate tac­tic con­cern­ing USA and Chi­na), 16 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.sta.si/vest.php?s=s&id=1469925 (last access: 15 May 2010).
  • 4The Sloven­ian Foun­da­tion for Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment – Uman­otera: Sporoči­lo za javnost ob zaključku pod­neb­nih poga­janj v Koeben­havnu (Press release at the end of the cli­mate nego­ti­a­tions in Copen­hagen), 19 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.umanotera.org/index.php?node=178 (last access: 15 May 2010).
  • 5STA: Nad dogov­orom v Koeben­havnu razočarane tudi nevladne orga­ni­zaci­je. (NGOs also dis­ap­point­ed with the agree­ment in Copen­hagen), 19 Decem­ber 2010, avail­able at: http://www.sta.si/vest.php?s=r&id=1461744&pr=1 (last access: 18 May 2010).
  • 6Mmc.rtvslo.si: Anke­ta (Sur­vey), 26. Decem­ber 2010, avail­able at: http://www.rtvslo.si/modload.php&c_mod=poll&op=polls& func=list&c_menu=23&c_parent=23&page=4 (last access: 15 May 2010).
  • 7Jernej Stri­tih, Direc­tor of the Gov­ern­ment Office of the Repub­lic of Slove­nia of Cli­mate Changes: Writ­ten com­ments to the EU-27 Watch Ques­tion­naire 2010.
  • 8Ibid.
  • 9Ibid.
  • 10Ibid.
  • 11Mlad­i­na: Inter­vju: Luč­ka Kajfež Bogataj, kli­ma­tologin­ja (Inter­view: Luč­ka Kajfež Bogataj, cli­ma­tol­o­gist), 7 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.mladina.si/tednik/200901/dr__lucka_kajfez_bogataj__klimatologinja (last access: 18 May 2010).
  • 12Ibid.
  • 13Min­istry of For­eign Affairs: Press state­ment by the Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs, Samuel Žbog­ar, on the Copen­hagen Sum­mit, 22 Decem­ber 2010, avail­able at: http://www.mzz.gov.si/nc/en/tools/cns/news/article/6/%2026391/36746f22d9/ (last access: 15 May 2010).
  • 14Min­istry for Envi­ron­ment and Spa­tial Plan­ning: Stal­išča Repub­like Sloveni­je za kon­fer­en­co o pod­neb­nih spre­mem­bah v Koeben­havnu od 7. do 18. decem­bra 2009 (Posi­tion of the Repub­lic of Slove­nia on the con­fer­ence on cli­mate change in Copen­hagen from 7 to 18 Decem­ber), avail­able at: http://www.vlada.si/fileadmin/dokumenti/si/projekti/2009/podnebne/ konferenca_kopenhagen_stalisca_Slovenije.pdf (last access: 15 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.