Commissioner Connie Hedegaard of Climate Action presented the new EU strategy to the EU Parliament on March 9 indicating that international negotiations must ensure that the future global agreement will have a high level of environmental integrity and will actually keep warming below 2°C. The EU sees the Kyoto Protocol as the central building block of the UN process but the limited number of countries it covers, and its serious weaknesses, must be addressed. If allowed to continue these weaknesses, which concern accounting rules for forestry emissions and the handling of surplus national emission rights from the 2008-2012 period, would risk reducing industrialized countries’ current emission reduction pledges to almost zero. The Commission believes the EU must show leadership by taking tangible action to become the most climate friendly region of the world as part of the Europe 2020 strategy proposed on 3 March.  The EU has committed to a 20% emissions cut below 1990 levels by 2020, and to scaling up this reduction to 30% if other major economies agree to do their fair share of the global effort. Ahead of the June European Council, the Commission will prepare an analysis of what practical policies would be required to implement the 30% emission reduction.  The Commission will later outline a pathway for the EU’s transition to becoming a low-carbon economy by 2050.  Consistent with the EU 2020 strategy, the goal is to come with intelligent solutions that benefit not only climate change, but also energy security and job creation. Swift implementation of the EU’s commitment to provide €2.4 billion in ‘fast start’ financial assistance to developing countries annually in 2010-2012 is essential both to the EU’s credibility and to enhancing recipient countries’ capacities to address climate change. The Communication underlines that the EU should continue to work to advance the development of the international carbon market, which is essential for driving low-carbon investments and reducing global emissions cost-effectively. The carbon market can also generate major financial flows to developing countries. The EHA therefore has scheduled a meeting in March with the new DG Climate Action officials to discuss how hydrogen and fuel cell deployment projects in developing countries could be best integrated in these investment programmes.

Advancing carbon markets