Tuesday

19th Nov 2019

Europe questions US conversion on climate change

US president George W. Bush has said a long-term goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is needed, but some have questioned whether Washington's apparent u-turn on the environment is just a public-relations exercise aimed at derailing current efforts to secure a climate deal under the UN and G8 umbrella.

"Science has deepened our understanding of climate change and opened new possibilities for confronting it," president Bush announced on Thursday (31 May), the Financial Times reported, adding, "by the end of next year, America and other nations will set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • The EU has reacted carefully to President Bush's statements (Photo: The White House)

Washington wants to hold a series of meetings with the world's biggest polluters, including rapidly growing economies like India and China, to create "a new framework…when the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012."

These 15 countries would "establish mid-term national targets and programmes that reflect their own mix of energy sources and future energy needs."

Although Mr Bush's statements seem to indicate willingness to act against global warming, they are also likely to mean that the G8 summit in the Baltic resort of Heiligendamm, scheduled for 6-8 June, will not secure on a breakthrough climate change deal.

Germany's leader Angela Merkel wants the G8 club - composed of the US, Canada, Russia, Japan, the UK, France, Italy and Germany - to agree concrete steps to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius and pave the way for a new framework to replace the Kyoto protocol.

Ms Merkel hopes to bring those results to an UN-brokered meeting in Bali in December.

"The leading role of the UN on climate change is non-negotiable," the chief German negotiator on climate change, Bernd Pfaffenbach, was cited as saying by the UK paper Guardian.

Another German official described the US proposal as a "poison pill" aimed at undermining G8 and UN efforts to tackle global warming.

A similar reaction came from environmental groups who said starting alternative talks would take years to produce results.

"The plan announced by president Bush is a complete charade," Brent Blackwelder from Friends of the Earth told Reuters, adding "it is an attempt to make the Bush administration look like it takes global warming seriously without actually doing anything to curb emissions."

Differences

The two sides of the Atlantic continue to differ on many more aspects of the thorny issue of climate change.

The 27-nation EU has set two clear targets - to prevent global temperatures rising two degrees Celsius above pre-industrialised levels and to cut emissions by 50 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2050.

The main vehicle envisaged by the EU bloc is a carbon trading scheme, a market-based tool which involves credits for companies that cut emissions and penalties for those that do not comply with targets.

However, the White House remains opposed to setting temperature control as well as to placing a cap and trade system at the heart of its own environmental strategy.

"We need to harness the power of technology to help nations meet their growing energy needs while protecting the environment," president Bush said, according to the BBC, making it clear that new clean technologies are seen as essential in Washington.

The European Commission president Jose M. Barroso told the Financial Times that the US had "crossed the Rubicon" in accepting the threat of climate change but was still not fully facing up to its responsibilities.

Mr Barroso added that the US preoccupation with technology to tackle global warming would only work if Washington signed up to a global system of "measurable, binding, enforceable targets."

EU agrees 2020 budget deal

EU governments and the parliament agreed in marathon talks ino next year's budget - which will boost spending on climate, border protection, and the European satellite system. It will also be a benchmark if there is no long-term budget deal.

EU and China agree to defend 'gastronomic jewels'

Manchego cheese, Panjin rice and Polish vodka will all be protected under a new EU-China agreeement. But the two trading giants continue to struggle over other trade-related deals.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary, Poland block EU conclusions on rule of law
  2. France: wide EU backing for enlargement change
  3. EU Council calls for policy action to protect marine life
  4. ECJ: Poland's judicial independence in doubt
  5. Suspected 'middleman' in Caruana Galizia case arrested
  6. European populists more favourable to Russia
  7. Hungary's new commissioner approved by MEPs
  8. Balkan coal power plants fail to meet emissions targets

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us