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EU Council backs 2030 emissions targets
by Staff Writers
Brussels (UPI) Dec 7, 2012

Troubled UN climate talks enter final day
Doha (AFP) Dec 07, 2012 - UN talks seeking to halt the march of global warming enter their final day in Doha Friday with key points still outstanding: extending the greenhouse gas-curbing Kyoto Protocol and funding for poor countries.

Delegates are preparing for a long day and night of final haggling to find consensus on interim ways to rein in climate change and smooth the way to a new deal that must enter into force in 2020.

NGOs and delegates expressed frustration at the pace of negotiations that started on November 26 and coincided with a slew of new scientific warnings that Earth faces a calamitous future of more frequent extreme weather events.

"Political negotiators need to realise urgently that the climate does not negotiate," Greenpeace chief executive Kumi Naidoo told AFP in the final hours of the talks.

"Negotiations are out of touch with scientific reality. This is about human survival."

Funding to help poor countries deal with the fallout from global warming and convert to planet-friendlier energy sources emerged as a key sticking point between negotiators from nearly 200 countries.

Developed countries were pressed to show how they intend to keep a promise to raise climate funding for poor countries to $100 billion (76 billion euros) per year by 2020 -- up from a total of $30 billion in 2010-2012.

Developing countries say they need at least another $60 billion between now and 2015.

But the United States and European Union have refused to put concrete figures on the table in Doha for 2013-2020 funding, citing tough financial times.

Another point of contention was "hot air," the name given to Earth-warming greenhouse gas emission quotas that countries were given under the first leg of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and did not use -- some 13 billion tonnes in total.

The credits can be sold to nations battling to meet their own quotas, meaning greenhouse gas levels decrease on paper but not in the atmosphere.

Poland and Russia emitted much less than their lenient limits, and insisted in Doha on being allowed to bank the difference beyond 2012 -- a move vehemently opposed by most other parties.

Agreement on hot air is key to the Doha delegates extending the life of the Kyoto pact, whose first leg expires on December 31.

The protocol is the world's only binding pact on curbing greenhouse gases, but locks in only developed nations and excludes major developing polluters such as China and India, as well as the United States, which refused to ratify it.

A new 2020 deal, due to be finalised by 2015, will include commitments for all the nations of the world.

The Philippines urged bickering UN climate negotiators on Thursday to take heed from the deadly typhoon that struck the archipelago this week and wake up to the realities of global warming.

"As we sit here, every single hour, even as we vacillate and procrastinate here, the death toll is rising," climate envoy Naderev Sano told delegates.

German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier predicted on Thursday that the talks "will be on the knife's edge up to the last moment."

The official debate over setting European greenhouse gas-reduction targets after 2020 began this week when EU energy ministers called for a new framework.

The EU Energy Council issued a set of "conclusions" Monday in Brussels. The conclusions outlined member nations' priorities in the energy field, including a call for the European Commission to "continue the momentum" it has built while working to achieve current 2020 reduction targets out further to 2030.

Extending the mandates are seen as essential by renewable energy companies and environmentalists, who argue investors need long-term guarantees that European markets for wind and solar energy will remain stable for decades.

They have pointed to "stop-and-go" political support for renewables in Britain and other EU countries as a major disincentive to securing the billions of dollars in investments needed to build out renewable energy infrastructures.

Post-2020 targets, however, has been vociferously opposed by coal-dependent Poland, which this year has twice vetoed attempts by the European Union to codify support for longer-term CO2-reduction goals.

EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger has voiced strong backing for emissions reductions goals that go beyond current 2020 targets, which mandate a 20 percent reduction in emissions as well as a goal of increasing the share of renewable energy in the European Union's overall energy mix to 20 percent.

He called in October for "maybe more than 20 percent or 30 percent in 2030" and has said he wants a decision taken on targets for 2030 by the end of the commission's term in 2014, the Brussels news portal reported.

Monday's energy council conclusions were generally welcomed by wind energy backers and environmentalists, who said they provided a clear signal that member nations want to negotiate further targets.

But the same divisions between EU members on the issue remain, Irish Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte told the website.

"A substantial body of states wants to maintain the momentum but some -- like Poland -- are strongly opposed to binding targets being fixed after 2020," he said.

Rabbitte, who will be chairman of the EU Energy Council starting Jan. 1 as Ireland takes over the rotating presidency, vowed to try to resolve the dispute over the coming year despite what he called Warsaw's "very assertive" stance.

Poland objects that a 30 percent goal for 2030 would place too great a burden on its coal-dependent economy and also argues that true global reductions won't be achieved without similar commitments from China, India, the United States and Russia.

German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier said Wednesday he hoped to broker a compromise between Poland and the European Union on emission reduction targets.

"We want to solve the problem together, but in such a way that the EU still able to commit to a 30 percent reduction," he said in an interview with Germany's ARD television.

He said a "pragmatic solution" that would be acceptable to Poland is possible but didn't disclose details.

"Poland has a particular problem, because it is heavily dependent on Russian gas, which it wants to replace with its own coal," the German minister said.


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Troubled UN climate talks enter final day
Doha (AFP) Dec 07, 2012
UN talks seeking to halt the march of global warming enter their final day in Doha Friday with key points still outstanding: extending the greenhouse gas-curbing Kyoto Protocol and funding for poor countries. Delegates are preparing for a long day and night of final haggling to find consensus on interim ways to rein in climate change and smooth the way to a new deal that must enter into forc ... read more

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