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Stavros Dimas

Member of the European Commission, responsible for environment

The Road to Bali and beyond

Joint Parliamentary session, European Parliament
Brussels, 1 October 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This summer the North-West Passage shipping route through the Arctic has become navigable for the first time since records began. The area covered by Arctic sea ice has shrunk to the smallest ever seen. The situation in the Artic Sea is only one of many signs that climate change is happening. Unless the international community takes urgent action to cut emissions sharply, climate change will transform the face of our planet, undermine our economies and put tens of millions of people at risk.

I am very happy to have the opportunity to attend this joint Parliamentary session, and to discuss with you the EU's approach for moving forward the international co-operation on climate change. Let me also thank President Pöttering and President Gama for hosting this event, and for the exceptional commitment that the European Parliament and Member State parliaments have always shown to the fight against climate change.

Under President Pöttering's leadership, the European Parliament has been at the forefront of EU climate policy and undoubtedly contributed to the successful outcome of the European Council last March where Member States set out ambitious emission targets for 2020. The Commission knows that it can always count on support from the European Parliament to drive an ambitious climate agenda both at international and at EU level.

As members of parliament you are key actors in EU climate policy. A considerable part of the success of EU climate policy lies in the implementation of robust actions and initiatives in Member States. We also count on your support in spreading and promoting the EU's climate objectives in your various contacts with colleagues in other parliaments around the world, business and civil society. This is of fundamental importance for our efforts to promote a shared understanding for a stronger international co-operation on climate change.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you all know, our efforts to combat climate change will only be successful if the international community is ready to engage in a comprehensive and ambitious global co-operation.

There are many encouraging signs. Climate change has risen to the top of international politics and is now an issue for world leaders. A week ago, the unprecedented meeting called by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in New York sent out a powerful political message: climate change deserves urgent and decisive action at highest political level. This is a major step forward: political determination and leadership is essential if we are to move from words to deeds. The primacy of the UN framework as well as the need to start negotiations on the international climate regime received all the necessary political support in New York.

This was, as you know, followed by the meeting called by President Bush with the "Major Economies". Another sign that things have changed: the need to act together to fight climate change is now fully acknowledged by the US administration and the US domestic debate on climate change action is steadily growing. This is something we welcome. However, the EU took the opportunity of the Washington meeting to reaffirm that it is only in the UN context that international negotiations can take place. There is no point in setting up new and parallel processes without any clear added value for the UN process. Also, any future international agreement must build on mandatory reduction targets for developed countries and be underpinned by a binding monitoring and compliance mechanism.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

All eyes are now turning to the UN climate conference in Bali coming December. This will be the first real test of the international community's determination to translate political declarations into concrete action.

The UN climate conference in Bali should signal the start of a new phase of global efforts on climate change. At Bali, it is essential to start official negotiations on the future international climate regime after 2012, when the first Kyoto commitment period ends. The EU's objective is to ensure that a comprehensive and fair international agreement is in force by the end of 2012. This means that negotiations should be completed by 2009.

Bali should also agree on a roadmap, comprising the main elements of the post-2012 international agreement. This is what we call the "building blocks".

We first of all need a "shared vision" or in other words a global climate objective for the UN process. This should be based on sound science and provide a basis for emission targets. It should reflect the scale of collective efforts needed. The EU's strategy is to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, beyond which the risk of irreversible and catastrophic changes greatly increases. This objective requires that global emissions decrease by at least 50% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Bali should also confirm the need for firm and absolute emissions reduction commitments by developed countries. At the March European Council, the EU has already taken the independent commitment to reduce emissions by at least 20% by 2020 and agreed to increase this to 30% as part of an effective international agreement. The EU will expect other developed countries to take on reduction targets that put them on a similar level of ambition.

However, efforts by industrialised countries only will not suffice. Developing countries, and in particular emerging economies, must be encouraged to reduce the emission intensity of their economic growth. This would require new incentives and flexible types of commitments, as well as further transfer and deployment of climate friendly technologies. There are encouraging signs that countries such as China, Brazil, India are ready to consider such measures.

The future international climate agreement must also expand the use of carbon markets. The carbon market we have created at international and regional level is functioning. The EU's emission trading system, which today makes up some 80% of the global carbon market, is already driving investments towards low carbon technologies in the EU as well as in developing countries. The development and linking of compatible emissions trading schemes - both national or regional - must be encouraged and we are working to create a forum for exchange of experience between public authorities designing or operating cap and trade schemes. The Clean Development Mechanism" should be scaled up to intensify the financing of actions in these countries to lessen the carbon impact of their economic growth. This must be combined with ambitious and absolute emission reduction commitments by developed countries to drive demand on the international carbon market.

Another priority for the international climate agreement will be to strengthen cooperation on technological research and increase financial support to spur the transfer of low carbon technologies to developing countries. Additional efforts must be made to bring down the cost of strategically important technologies. Existing technologies can bring significant results, and we should support developing countries in establishing the necessary enabling environment in terms of economic incentives and regulation.

An equally essential part of our strategy is to address efforts to adapt to climate change. As I have already mentioned, climate change is happening and will accelerate further. While our mitigation efforts need to be strengthened, it is also clear that we have no choice but to adapt to climate change. This is true in Europe but I would say even more so in the most vulnerable developing countries. This includes setting aside adequate financing and developing risk management instruments. All countries need to take steps to adapt to the unavoidable effects of climate change and integrate climate concerns into their infrastructure policy and spatial planning.

Emissions from international aviation and maritime transport should be addressed in the context of the UN climate co-operation. At present, this is not the case. Bringing these sectors into the fold is especially important because they are both the source of rapidly increasing emissions.

And the last building block of our strategy concerns emissions resulting from deforestation. Deforestation accounts for about 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon sinks must be promoted via sustainable forest management and sustainable land use practices. This is an issue which most concerned developing countries are especially keen to see as part of a post-2012 agreement and which for the EU is an essential part of the equation.

Ladies and Gentleman,

I believe there is a real opportunity for a positive outcome in Bali. Two months before the Bali UN climate change conference, the political momentum is building up to achieve an agreement to start negotiations and the expectations of our citizens are high.

This is necessary but not sufficient. We now need to build the widest possible international support on the "roadmap" that we have in mind. Bali is just the start of the negotiating process. All must understand that they stand to gain from engaging in comprehensive negotiations and to lose if we collectively fail to do so.

This is the challenge ahead of us for the coming weeks. The EU will intensify bilateral contacts with key partners, make the best use of up-coming summits (EU-China, EU-India, EU-ASEAN) as well as important meetings such as the G8+5 mid October and the High level preparatory meeting late October in Bogor, Indonesia.

The EU will also have to deliver at home. On the 5th of December, the Commission will put forward the legislative instruments to reach our climate objectives of 20/30% greenhouse gas reductions and to raise the use of renewable to 20% of energy consumption as agreed by the European Council. This will also comprise a revision of the emission trading directive so as to reinforce and broaden the EU trading system.

I look forward to a continuing and constructive cooperation with all of you to make this package a success. It is absolutely vital for us to work together to tackle the challenges we face. This is especially important as we seek an international agreement that will to protect us from the disastrous consequences climate change may have on our planet.

Thank you for your attention.

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