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COP16: EU: Cancun deal progressing but gaps remain

A COP16 package is taking form, but some areas have not seen sufficient progress, to the consternation of the EU, says Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action.



The Cancún climate change talks have entered the final phase in which individual topics are no longer on the table for discussion and nations are focusing instead on an overall package.

Among those issues of concern to the EU are the questions on MRV, future market mechanisms and the emissions gap estimated should countries not increase the ambitions of their cuts.

“These are not minor details,” warns Hedegaard. “These are very crucial issues.”

A Cancún accord must state that “the obvious” that current emissions cut pledges will only reach 60% of the goal of keeping the temperature from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius by 2020, she notes.

“The promises made under Copenhagen are not enough to avoid dangerous climate change,” adds Joke Schauvliege, Flemish Minister for Environment, Nature and Culture. Ambition levels must be raised.

Schauvliege adds that the EU has been aggressive in building bridges between extreme positions during negotiations, including, for example, on MRV. Nations are “still working in smaller groups and working on a concrete text and I think we have some elements to succeed there and find some compromises,” adding that “I think everybody is still on speaking terms.”

Regarding the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, which Japan and Russia have refused to sign on for and developing nations require, Hedegaard says talks with them have been frank.

Schauvliege relates that Japan and Russia are concerned that the Kyoto Protocol does not do enough to combat climate change.

“We have to find a solution for that,” she says. “I think it’s possible to have something in between and to have the commitment to consider the second period without Japan and Russia.”

Hedegaard says flexibility is necessary on all parts, and “everyone realizes what is at stake.”