The current commitments on cutting carbon emissions agreed under the Kyoto Protocol come to an end in 2012 and Europe, one of the main advocates of the cap-and-trade system it extols, has been trying to gauge the global appetite for future climate deals.

Last Thursday, the EU’s Climate Change Temporary Committee heard from representatives from the USA, China and Japan on their views of how best to tackle climate change beyond 2012, as well as from advisors from member states and the UN.

A number of speakers told the committee that, while governmental policies would still be key, in the post-Kyoto landscape the role of business would become increasingly important.

“What we are talking about is an effort to build a world economy in energy which, by the end of the century, should be zero-carbon,” said John Ashton, the UK Foreign Office special representative on climate change

Many key decisions would be made in the board room, rather than by legislators, he argued.

“This is largely about the direction of the flow of private capital,” he said.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Climate Change, agreed saying business leaders would be looking for certainty from governments to allow them to plan ahead.

“[They will be thinking] in order for us to make investment decisions, you have to give us some sense of policy direction,” he said.

Takekazu Kawamura, head of the Japanese mission to the EU, said Japan believed that all major emitters should participate in the agreed framework. He acknowledged the merits of the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme but said that as long as countries signed up to specific goals and had a reliable way of measuring progress towards them, a single, universal system was not necessary.

Ronglai Zhong of the Chinese mission stressed the need to develop “common but differentiated” responsibilities at the global level, reflecting the right of developing countries to grow their economies while doing so in an environmentally aware way, pointing to, among other things, to the need for a universal mechanism for green technology-transfer.

Bolden Gray, US ambassador to the EU, said: “Economic growth, energy security, and climate change must be pursued in an integrated way”, began Bolden Gray, US ambassador to the EU.

However, he added, “we still do not have the technologies needed to do the things we want to do.”

Wrapping up the meeting, the EU committee’s Satu Hassiargued argue that: “The best way for Europe to encourage other countries in international negotiations is to practice what we preach.”

Sam Bond

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