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Brussels, 28 November 2008

Climate change: Poznań conference must shift negotiations on a new global climate deal into higher gear

The European Commission and EU Member States aim to shift international negotiations on a new global climate treaty into higher gear and will be pressing for progress on a range of issues at the UN climate change conference in Poznań, Poland from 1-12 December. The Poznań conference represents an important staging-post in the international negotiations which were launched in Bali last December and are due to lead to the conclusion of the new agreement at the end of 2009 in Copenhagen. Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas will participate in the high-level segment of the conference on 11-12 December.

"The financial crisis has underlined the folly of ignoring clear warning signs," said Commissioner Dimas. "With climate change we cannot afford to repeat this mistake if we are to prevent dangerous and possibly catastrophic economic and social consequences in the coming decades. Even if it is too early to expect major breakthroughs, the Poznań conference must shift gear from exploratory discussions to concrete negotiations and send a clear signal that the world is on track to conclude an ambitious climate treaty in Copenhagen a year from now."

Key EU objectives for a new global Agreement

The future framework, which will cover the period after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol's emission targets will have expired, needs to have global participation and to tackle climate change in a comprehensive and ambitious way. Its 'shared vision' should be for developed countries to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions sharply by 2020 while helping developing countries, through technological and financial support, to develop along a low-carbon path and to adapt to the impacts of climate change which are now inevitable.

The EU firmly believes that global warming must not exceed 2°C above pre-industrial levels since there is strong scientific evidence that the risk of irreversible and possibly catastrophic environmental changes will become far greater beyond this threshold. Keeping within 2°C will require global emissions to peak by 2020 and then be at least halved from 1990 levels by 2050. To stop the rise in global emissions, developed countries will need to cut their collective emissions by 30% of 1990 levels by 2020 while developing nations, particularly the major emerging economies, should contain the growth in their emissions by keeping them 15-30% below projected 'business as usual' levels in 2020.

Poznań priorities

The Poznań conference is an important opportunity to take stock of negotiations so far, step up their pace and make further progress, and lay a solid basis for the final year of negotiations.

The key results the EU will be pressing for are:

  • Agreement on a clear work programme to guide the negotiations in 2009, including a possible extraordinary ministerial meeting around mid-year;
  • Progress towards the adoption of a broad 'shared vision' for cooperative action, including targets for 2020 and 2050;
  • A comprehensive review of how the Kyoto Protocol can be improved and strengthened. A decision on streamlining the management of the Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism, an important channel of funding and technology for low-carbon development in developing countries, is possible and could be implemented immediately;
  • A firm decision on how to make Kyoto’s Adaptation Fund for developing countries operational as quickly as possible by overcoming its teething problems.

The high-level segment of the conference will focus on developing the shared vision and how to finance the future agreement. It will be preceded on 8-9 December by an international meeting of finance ministers in Warsaw.

With a global consensus already reached that the new treaty must tackle tropical deforestation - the source of some 20% of global emissions - the European Commission will be promoting its recent proposals to halve gross tropical deforestation by 2020 and halt global forest cover loss by 2030. It proposes, among other things, establishing a Global Forest Carbon Mechanism to help developing countries (see IP/08/1543).

EU climate and energy package

The EU has shown its leadership by committing to reduce its emissions by at least 20% of 1990 levels by 2020, and by up to 30% if other developed countries commit to comparable reductions under a new global agreement.

The package of climate and energy legislation proposed by the Commission in January 2008 will take the EU much of the way towards achieving these targets. Negotiations on the package are entering their final stage and the package is on the agenda of the European Council meeting on 11-12 December – coinciding with the high-level segment in Poznań.


The conference brings together the 192 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which include the United States, and the 183 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. The European Community and all Member States are Parties to both.

The EU delegation will be led by the 'troika' comprising, for the high level segment, French Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo, Czech Environment Minister Martin Bursik and Commissioner Dimas.

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