17th Apr 2021

EU and US at loggerheads over climate change

The EU and US have clashed at an international meeting in Bali to discuss ways to tackle climate change, with Europe threatening to boycott a key environment meeting next year if Washington does not show greater commitment to cutting greenhouse gases.

The dispute centres around a proposal - supported by the EU but opposed by the US, Russia, Canada and Japan - to include indicative targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 in the Bali agreement.

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The Indonesian island meeting is supposed to set out a road map for discussions over the next couple of years on putting in place a new global climate agreement, after the current Kyoto protocol expires in 2012.

The EU wants to set target goals now - a reduction in greenhouse gas emission by 25-40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 - so that during the post-Kyoto treaty talks, there is a set goal to aim for.

But the US has been opposing the proposed targets, arguing that specific targets should only be discussed once the actual treaty negotiations start.

"To put it very directly and honestly, we are disappointed that having reached this stage of the negotiations we still haven't heard from the US what is their level of ambition or engagement with the Bali road map,'' Humberto Rosa, Portugal's environment secretary of state and spokesman for the European Union, said according to Bloomberg.

German environment minister Sigmar Gabriel also indicated that Washington was the main obstacle to agreement.

"They don't want to be seen as the blockade country, but they're not doing anything in order to come to a concrete result," he said, according to Deutsch Welle.

Both Mr Gabriel and EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas indicated that the EU would not attend a US-organised climate meeting in Honolulu next month.

"No result in Bali means no Major Economies Meeting," said Mr Gabriel while Mr Dimas said "If we have an agreement here in Bali that is substantial, of course the major emitters' meeting has some importance. Otherwise, it's meaningless."

The US has invited 16 "major economies" to discuss setting voluntary targets at the Honolulu meeting to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

For its part the EU is seeking to persuade other countries to commit to binding targets.

In recent years, the 27-nation bloc has taken the lead in setting targets for reducing the effects of climate change.

It has proposed cutting its own greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 and has said it will raise to pledge to 30 percent if the international community comes on board.

The Bali meeting, which began on 3 December, will come to a close today.

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