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Brussels, 7 October 2011

Preparation Environment Council, 10 October 2011

The first Environment Council under the Polish Presidency will be held on 10 October in Luxembourg. Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik and Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard will represent the European Commission. The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on four issues: the UN climate conference in Durban starting in late November; the evaluation of the Sixth Environmental Action Programme, adopted by the Commission in August; the preparations for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development ("Rio +20") to be held in Rio De Janeiro, on 4-6 June 2012; and the next meeting of the Basel Convention on controlling transboundary movements of hazardous waste, to be held in Colombia on 17-21 October. Among the AOB points, the Commission will present the recently adopted Roadmap to a Resource-Efficient Economy.

Durban Climate Conference

The Council is expected to adopt conclusions setting out the main elements of the EU's position for the annual United Nations climate change conference, to be held in Durban, South Africa from 28 November to 9 December. The conclusions should call for an ambitious and balanced outcome from Durban which moves the world closer to a global and comprehensive legally-binding framework for climate action. In particular, Durban should make operational the agreements reached at last year's Cancún conference, address the key issues left aside in the Cancún Agreements and move forward on the question of the legal form of the future global framework, including setting a timeline for agreeing it.

Ministers are expected to address two remaining issues. The first concerns its position regarding a possible second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol as part of a transition to a wider legally binding framework covering all major emitters. The second issue concerns how to treat, in a possible second Kyoto commitment period, the surplus emission budgets of developed countries that are expected to emit less in the first commitment period than they are allowed to. The current text of the Kyoto Protocol allows countries to carry over this entire surplus of so-called Assigned Amount Units (AAUs) to subsequent commitment periods, but the large size of the surplus that has built up means that doing so could undermine the effectiveness of future climate action.

6th EAP

Conclusions will be adopted on the recent review of the 6th Environmental Action Programme, adopted by the Commission in the summer. The 6th EAP, a decision of the European Parliament and the Council, set out the environmental objectives for a 10 year period (2002-2012), and actions needed to achieve them. The review of the 6th EAP outlined its achievements, shortfalls and lessons learnt for each of the priority areas, and for strategic approaches and instruments, and concluded that the Commission would consider how a new environment action programme could best provide added value in the rapidly evolving context for environment policy. The Conclusions are expected to call for the speedy adoption of a 7th Environmental Action Programme, and discussions may centre round future orientations and how to improve the implementation of EU environment policy.

Rio +20

The Council is expected to adopt conclusions providing political guidance for the EU position for Rio+20, to be submitted to the UN by 1 November 2011. The conclusions will cover both the environmental and development dimensions of the conference. They will take stock of what has been achieved to date, and will map out key policies and actions needed in the transition to a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. They are also expected to recommend a more effective institutional framework for sustainable development, in terms of the key questions related to investing in resources and natural capital ("what"); promoting establishment of regulatory and conditions to stimulate markets ("how") and improving governance and private sector involvement ("who").

Basel Convention

With the theme “Prevention, minimization and recovery of wastes” the tenth Convention of the Parties to the Basel Convention (the international convention designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and protect developing nations) is aiming to position waste management as a model area for achieving an environmentally and socially sound economy, and to therefore make a concrete contribution to Rio+20. The Council will adopt conclusions on the EU position for the COP, covering the main strategic issues such as the New Strategic Framework of the Basel Convention for 2012-2021; an Indonesian-Swiss country-led initiative on ways to strengthen the way the Convention is applied in practice (the "Ban Amendment"); ship recycling; technical guidelines and compliance issues.

Any other business

During the AOB points, the Council is also expected to welcome the presentation by the Commission of the Roadmap to a resource efficient Europe and express support regarding the integration of resource efficiency in the next European Semester. The Presidency and the Commission will update Ministers on the outcome of the fourth meeting of the parties to the Aarhus Convention, and information will be presented about two biodiversity-related issues: a roadmap for the ratification of the ABS protocol adopted at Nagoya last year, and recent developments regarding the outcome of the first plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in Nairobi, Kenya.

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