EU has failed to take a lead in international climate change negotiations
The EU may dream of leading the world toward ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, but thus far it has failed to offer the progressive leadership required, says a report.
“Unless the EU finds new ways of approaching the climate negotiations in the coming months, an all too likely scenario is a road to defeat at the Sixth Council of Parties of the Kyoto Protocol, paved with unclear objectives, lack of strategy, disagreements and dithering,” states The EU in the International Climate Negotiations: Lost and Defeated?.
“It was written in a slightly provocative style,” Joy Hyvarinen, research fellow at the Institute for European Environmental Policy, told edie. Hyvarinen hopes that some of the report’s points will have an impact on the way EU member states and the EC approach the next Council of Parties (COP6) to be held in the Hague in November. “There’s time for serious discussion before COP6,” says Hyvarinen.
On the issue of ratification, Hyvarinen wonders how carefully the EU has considered the possibility of pursuing early ratification without the US. “It is perhaps not realistic to let everything revolve around what the US needs in order to ratify Kyoto,” says Hyvarinen. “Right now, the US demands are standing in the way of progress in many areas.” Hyvarinen believes that in order for Kyoto to work well the US must eventually ratify the treaty, but that it may not be necessary for the country to be among the countries who ratify early and thus bring the Treaty into force.
“I know that there was some discussion, even among the EU ministers, at COP5 in Bonn about the possibility of ratification without the US,” says Hyvarinen. “But I’m not sure if it’s being seriously pursued.”
In more general terms, Hyvarinen points out that the EU needs to address its poor negotiating record. “The EU should exert the influence of a major power, but consistently manages to negotiate as ‘less than the sum of its parts’,” she writes. As an example, Hyvarinen cites the EU’s ‘close to the bottom line’ negotiating strategy at COP4 in Buenos Aires in 1998 on the percentage of domestic action (versus the use of flexibility measures such as emissions trading and the transfer of ‘clean’ technology to the developing world) that would be required of countries when meeting their Kyoto commitments.
Despite the EU’s ambitions to be the world leader on climate change, Hyvarinen asks whether a small group of developing world countries may not prove to be the most progressive voice in the debate. “Maybe there is a group of developing world countries that could form the nucleus of a progressive leadership to take the Protocol forward,” says Hyvarinen. “In 1995, at COP1, the Berlin mandate that was agreed was based on a developing world initiative that was led by India.”
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