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Brussels, 29 November 2010

Climate change: Cancún conference must mark significant step towards legally binding global climate framework

The United Nations climate change conference starting on 29 November in Cancún, Mexico must take a significant step towards establishing a comprehensive and legally binding framework for climate action at global level. In Cancún the European Union will be pressing for agreement on a balanced set of decisions which would pave the way for reaching a legally binding global framework as soon as possible and also lead to immediate climate action on the ground. The EU, the world's leading aid donor, will give a full and transparent report in Cancún on its delivery of 'fast start' funding to support developing countries.

Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, said: "The EU is ready to agree on an ambitious global climate framework in Cancún but regrettably some other major economies are not. Cancún can nevertheless take the world a significant step forward by agreeing on a balanced set of decisions covering many key issues. It is crucial that Cancún delivers this progress, otherwise the UN climate change process risks losing momentum and relevance, and so far no one has been able to point to an alternative forum that can deliver more. Therefore Cancún must deliver progress on substance, and it can, if all Parties show political will."

Joke Schauvliege, Flemish Minister for Environment, Nature and Culture, who will represent the Belgian EU Presidency in Cancún, said: "Global action is becoming ever more urgent if we are to have a chance of holding global warming below 2°C and preventing the worst impacts of climate change. The package of decisions that Europe hopes to see agreed in Cancún must build on the Kyoto Protocol and incorporate the political guidance given in the Copenhagen Accord."

Towards a post-2012 global climate framework

The 29 November-10 December conference in Cancún will see the continuation of UN negotiations aimed at drawing up a global regime to combat climate change for the period after 2012, when key provisions of the Kyoto Protocol will expire.

For the EU, the ultimate objective of the UN process must be to establish an ambitious, comprehensive and legally binding global framework that engages all countries in combating climate change. This framework should build on the Kyoto Protocol and the Copenhagen Accord, which was reached at last year's UN climate conference and has been endorsed by 140 countries including the EU and its Member States. The Copenhagen Accord recognises the need to keep global warming below 2°C compared to the pre-industrial temperature.

The EU's preference is for the future global climate framework to take the form of a single, new legally binding instrument which includes the essential elements of the Kyoto Protocol. However, the EU is willing to consider a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol on condition that this forms part of a wider global agreement which engages all major economies in climate action and that the environmental integrity of the Protocol is improved.

Cancún package

For the EU it is important that Cancún becomes a significant step that paves the way for establishing a global and comprehensive legally binding framework as soon as possible.

The conference should deliver progress by producing a balanced package of decisions which capture the progress achieved in the negotiations so far and lay down major elements of the 'architecture' of the future global climate regime. The Cancún decisions should also make it possible to launch immediate action on the ground to combat climate change, especially in developing countries.

The scope of the package of decisions has yet to be agreed. The specific issues that the EU wants to see addressed in a balanced Cancún package include:

  • - 'Anchoring' in the UN process of the emission pledges made under the Copenhagen Accord

  • Transparency rules (MRV)

  • Reform and expansion of carbon market mechanisms

  • A mechanism to reduce tropical deforestation

  • Forest management accounting rules for developed countries

  • Adaptation to climate change

  • Governance of the future Copenhagen Green Climate Fund

  • Technology cooperation

  • Capacity-building for developing countries

  • Emissions from international aviation and maritime transport

(see MEMO/10/627. for further details).

Fast start funding

In 2010 the EU has mobilised 'fast start' funding of €2.2 billion to support developing countries' efforts to adapt to and mitigate climate change. This forms part of the EU's overall commitment under the Copenhagen Accord to provide €7.2 billion over the period 2010-2012.

Fast start funding complements the significant climate support that the EU, as the world's largest aid donor, already provides to developing countries through its Official Development Assistance (ODA). In 2008, for example, the EU delivered US$ 5.1 billion for climate mitigation in developing countries through its ODA, or 60% of global ODA provided for this purpose.

To ensure full transparency in the implementation of its fast start commitment, the EU will present a comprehensive report on its progress in Cancún at a public side event open to all Parties and stakeholders. It will also provide annual reports in future.

EU press briefings in Cancún

The EU delegation will hold regular press briefings in Cancún, usually at 1000 or 1030 local time (1700 or 1730 CET), which will be streamed live and on demand at Exact times of press briefings can be checked at

Further information:

MEMO/10/627: Questions and Answers on the Cancún climate conference

DG CLIMA Cancún web pages:

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