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24th Sep 2018

Canete: Climate talks moving 'slower than we want'

  • Canete (c) called for a 'cleaner' negotiating text (Photo: European Commission)

There is still a long way to go before agreement can be reached during the international climate negotiations in Lima, the European Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said at a press conference in the Peruvian capital on Wednesday (10 december)..

“The negotiations ... are still on track. But progress is much slower than we want and need”, the EU's climate chief noted.

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Negotiators in Lima are trying to reach agreement on several issues that need to be resolved before they meet in 2015 in Paris, when countries will try to sign an international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The climate negotiators are also discussing a draft text for Paris. According to Canete 11 or 12 paragraphs have been written so far, but there is no agreement yet on any of them.

“Paragraph 11 in the initial text was in page 2. Now, we [have reached] 52 pages”, Canete said, adding that some paragraphs have 11 different options. He called for a “clean, simpler text”.

One issue on which there is still disagreement, is how the contribution in emissions reductions should be divided between rich and poor countries.

In the Kyoto Protocol, a distinction was made between the contributions of developed countries – which have historically polluted much more – and developing countries.

Under that distinction, China and India are still developing countries. The EU wants the distinction to “be interpreted according to the realities of today”.

Brazil has proposed a new way of dividing responsibilities, which it calls a “concentric differentiation approach”, with countries divided in a multilayered circle.

In the center of the proposed circle are the rich countries, which will have absolute reduction targets.

In the outer layers are developing countries, which can move to the inner circle once they have reached a certain level of development. Every five years a review will be done to see if a country is still in the right layer.

Canete called it “a valuable proposal” and “worth looking at”, but went no further than that.

Green MEP Bas Eickhout called Canete's response to the Brazilian idea “sparingly”.

“There is criticism on Europe … what do they want?”, Eickhout wrote in a blog post for newspaper Trouw.

He said the most often heard question in the sidelines of the conference in Lima now is: “What do you think about the Brazilian proposal?”

Eickhout is in Lima as part of the delegation of the European Parliament. Twelve MEPs from seven political groups make up the delegation.

Observers or influencers?

Most of the members of the delegation in Lima hope to influence the climate negotiations, but two members told this website they view their main role as to observe the process.

“We are observers”, Liberal MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy said. “We shouldn't be part of the negotiation table, that is not parliament's role.” His colleague from the far-left group agreed.

Kathleen Van Brempt, of the socialist group, said “of course” her role in Lima is also political.

“If it was just to observe, I would have stayed at home.”

The European Parliament has proposed more ambitious climate targets than the Commission and Van Brempt said they would remind the commissioner of that.

“We will not only supervise Canete, but also support him.”

The other political groups that responded to questions from this website also said they aim “to influence the negotiations and to secure the EU's leading role in international climate action”.

Legally it is the ministers of member states and the commissioner that enter the negotiations. They hold daily “EU coordination meetings”.

In a motion, the European Parliament had requested that the leader of their delegation would be allowed to participate in these meetings, but this request has been denied.

“Of course the EP Delegation in Lima is disappointed about this decision”, a spokesperson for the parliament's largest group, the conservative EPP, wrote.

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