15 September 2010 – Connie Hedegaard, the European Union (EU) climate action commissioner has been reported by EUobserver as saying that achieving an agreement on reduced carbon dioxide emissions at this year’s United Nations’ (UN) climate conference in Mexico is no longer a top priority for the EU.
Hedegaard, who was speaking at an event organized by the pan-European centre-right European Peoples Party yesterday, said the US’ inability to act on emission targets meant the EU would focus instead on securing a number of other issues.
“I believe that targets will not be the main issue at [the UN meeting in] Cancun because the US [has] failed to pass their environment legislation.”
Instead Hedegaard’s top priorities for the meeting in Mexico include solidifying the world’s commitment to a temperature rise of no more than two degree Celsius, the development of mechanisms to help states deal with the effects of climate change and the conclusion of a comprehensive agreement to protect the world’s forests – the so-called UN ‘Redd’ scheme.
According to UN estimates, deforestation and forest degradation account for up to one-fifth of all greenhouse gases released by human activities.
In her speech, Hedegaard also stressed the need for Europe to keep its top spot in the green technology sector. In 2007, the EU invested twice as much as China in low-carbon, energy efficiency technologies, but in 2009 the levels were equal.
“China has 50 per cent of the world solar power and wind market. We should be very, very cautious in Europe not to give away our frontrunner position,” said Hedegaard.
Hedegaard is not alone as others agree that a comprehensive deal, including reductions in carbon dioxide emissions is unlikely to be achieved this year.
“It is probably not before the UN meeting in South Africa [28 November- 9 December 2011] that an international agreement will be possible,” said Jean-Pascal van Ypersele de Strihou, the vice-chair of the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).