Speaking after two days of meetings with US officials in Washington, Mr Dimas said that both sides had agreed that climate change presented a major challenge for policy makers now and in the future.

“We moved beyond discussing technological innovation. We explored ways of future co-operation which include issues such as energy efficiency, renewables, the use of market based instruments and adaptation measures,” he said.

“The results of these talks could well mark the beginning of a new phase of US-EU co-operation on climate change. We are ready to seriously discuss with our American partners the future of an international climate change regime after 2012.”

Concretely, agreement was reached to re-launch the EU-US high level group bringing together representatives to discuss policies combating climate change and a broader environmental agenda.

Commissioner Dimas was travelling with Lucien Lux, Minister of the Environment for Luxembourg and Lord Whitty, representing the future British Presidency. They held extensive talks with Paula Dobrinsky, chief US negotiator on climate change and a number of key US policy makers including James Connaughton, chair of the White House Council on Environment Quality.

From these talks the EU Troika travelled to New York to attend the 13th Session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. This is the first policy setting session since the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. In particular it is addressing actions necessary to reach the goals and targets on water, sanitation and human settlements agreed at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000.

The EU representatives are presenting key initiatives to implement these goals such as the EU Water Facility for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries supported by funding of US$250 million. Worldwide the EU is the biggest donor in the water field, providing €1.4 billion annually.

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