Monday

10th May 2021

EU looks to 2020 for new pact on global warming

  • Carbon levels have reached record highs, reports say (Photo: Marina and Enrique)

The stakes are high but expectations are low in Durban, South Africa, where talks began on Monday (28 November) on how to save the planet from the effects of rising temperatures.

The meeting, the 17th of its kind since parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change first met in 1995 in Berlin, brings together an estimated 20,000 representatives from governments, environmental groups, media and business. Celebrities Angelina Jolie and Bono are expected to make appearances.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Diplomats from some 200 countries - including the European Union, a signatory to the convention - will negotiate for nearly two weeks on how to keep temperatures below two degrees Celcius above pre-industrial times (considered vital by scientists).

The talks come after mounting reports that carbon levels have reached record highs and temperatures are rising fast. "Global greenhouse gas emissions are projected to double in the next 40 years. This would result in a three-six degree increase of the average global temperature by the end of the century unless governments take decisive action," said the Paris-based think-tank, the OECD in a statement last week. Recent UN reports said a warming climate is expected to lead to heavier rainfall, more floods, stronger cyclones and more intense droughts.

"For most people in the developing world and Africa, climate change is a matter of life and death," said Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa at the opening ceremony on Monday.

The programme is likely to be dominated by the Kyoto protocol, the only legally binding treaty obliging the rich world to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, which expires after 2012.

A new, global deal was meant to be concluded two years ago, at the climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009, but failed to materialise. Instead, China and the US, the world's two biggest polluters, issued a non-binding statement, full of loose rhetoric.

No binding deal is expected to come out of Durban either. Instead, discussions aim to agree to come to a new deal in the future and - in the meantime - to keeping the Kyoto protocol alive.

Big emitters like Russia, Japan and Canada have already said they will not sign up to a second Kyoto period. The US never has and is unlikely to now. It objects to the fact that in the protocol, developing countries are exempt from cutting emissions since it is the developed world which is responsible for the high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere today.

The European Union, for its part, has said it will gladly sign up to a second Kyoto period, but only if a road map is agreed upon that will lead to the implementation of another legally binding agreement by 2020.

"A second Kyoto period with only the EU, representing only 11 percent of global emissions, is clearly not enough," EU climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard said.

"We would only be politically able to move ahead into a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol if there is at least a road map forward with others saying when they are going to come into the climate fight," Artur Runge-Metzger, the European Commission’s lead negotiator, noted.

For his part, the Durban envoy of the Green group in the European Parliament delegation, said the EU strategy will frustrate talks and render the Union irrelevant.

"The EU should just say right away that it will sign up for a second Kyoto period," he said.

"That way, China will not be able to hide behind the argument that the rich world is not willing to cut emissions. Otherwise, the negotiations will end up becoming a trench war between rich and poor, between the US and China. And Europe will be on the sidelines, just like in Copenhagen."

Developing world out of date on climate change, EU says

The EU has said it will sign up to extending the international treaty on climate change but has little hope the world’s major polluters will follow suit. It also called on developing countries to commit to legally binding targets.

EU claims climate victory but global warming goes on

Following agreement on a new global climate deal in the early hours of Sunday morning, the EU was quick to congratulate itself on brokering a "historic breakthrough", but environmental groups and scientists say it is not enough.

EU pledges aid to flood victims

The European Commission says it is ready to unleash funds to help the thousands affected by one of the worst floods to hit Europe in a decade.

Kerry resets climate relations before Glasgow summit

John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy, was in Brussels to discuss how to tackle climate change with the European Commission. His appearance also marked a major shift in relations after the previous US administration under Donald Trump.

Commission: Pioneering Nordics' energy mix 'example' to EU

The Nordic electricity market is an example of successful market integration plus climate action, as the share of sustainable energy keeps growing, the European Commission said. However, the decarbonisation of the transport sector remains a challenge.

News in Brief

  1. Lukashenko amends emergency transfer of power
  2. German centre-left picks Scholz as would-be chancellor
  3. EU has not ordered AstraZeneca vaccines beyond June
  4. Macron: Pandemic showed need for more EU integration
  5. Election win fuels Scottish nationalists' referendum plan
  6. Surge in migrant arrivals to Italian island
  7. EU embassy pays bail for Georgia opposition leader
  8. British aristocrats caught peddling Kremlin ties

EU faces long wait for full vaccine supplies

The EU is still several months away from having enough vaccines to inoculate its 450 million people, with Pfizer and BioNTech, its principle suppliers, aiming for September for delivery targets.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU and US urge Israel to defuse Jerusalem violence
  2. Frontex 'mislabelling minors as adults' on Greek islands
  3. Has Albania really met the 15 tests to join the EU? No
  4. Vaccine fairness plus Russia on table This WEEK
  5. EU ambassadors flock to Red Square for Putin's parade
  6. MEPs win battle for bigger citizens' voice at Conference
  7. Hungary gags EU ministers on China
  8. Poland and Hungary push back on 'gender equality' pre-summit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us