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Connie Hedegaard

European Commissioner for Climate Action

European Parliament plenary debate on preparations for the Cancún Climate Conference (29 November - 10 December)

European Parliament plenary debate

Strasbourg, 24 November 2010

Mr President, Minister, Honourable Members,

It is very clear that the legally-binding deal that the EU was ready for last year and that we are still ready for will, unfortunately, not be the outcome of Cancún – not because of us, but because others are not ready for it. It is true that we are heading for a package which is balanced but, I would also say, substantial and ambitious.

We were actually the first, this spring, to come forward with the idea of pursuing a “stepwise approach” in order to build on the Copenhagen Accord and secure the momentum now continuing in Cancún. But although there seems to be agreement that this is what we should bring home from Cancún – a balanced package – it is easy to say that this is what every party would like, but more difficult to agree on what this means.

What is a substantial balanced package? Here I would say that, seen from a European perspective, it is clear that we will insist on the need to anchor mitigation pledges, set up an enhanced system for Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) and promote the carbon markets. We should, of course, also have decisions on REDD+, adaptation, technology, finance and capacity-building. All these elements will have to be reflected in a package that we consider balanced.

One thing I would like to emphasise is that we, the European Union, must remain clear on our conditions for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. We must use these conditions to raise the level of ambition and to get others to move. The conditions attached to a possible second commitment period are very important for the environmental integrity and the ambition of the future climate regime. The EU alone under a second commitment period is neither sufficient nor credible. Therefore we need to stick to our conditions to lever positive responses from our partners. I must say that it is my clear impression – also from the pre-COP-meeting – that there is growing acknowledgement of our arguments on this.

The draft resolution that we have in front of us addresses all the areas that I have just mentioned. The Commission welcomes very much the guidance being offered by Parliament, even if not all of it can be taken fully on board.

To mention just one example: some of you suggest that we have another target than the two-degree target. A main priority for us in Cancún will be not to start reopening the Copenhagen Accord and not to start backtracking from what we already have.

I would also like to take this opportunity to emphasise that the EU needs to deliver on our fast-start pledges from Copenhagen. I can tell you honestly today: we are almost there. But we still need EUR 200 million from Member States in order to be exactly where we promised to be in Copenhagen. I take it that you can hear the difference between being able to say, in Cancún, on behalf of the European Union: ‘We have delivered’, and saying: ‘We have almost delivered’. I really think we should use the remaining days up to Cancún to try to deliver everything we have pledged in Copenhagen.

I have not mentioned targets. Not because they are not important, as they definitely are. The EU, this year as well as last year, would say that we are still ready to go to 30% provided others deliver as well. No change there. If targets are not being debated that much now, I think this is because a lot of other parties are not ready – for reasons that you know – to discuss targets in Cancún. I think what is important is to anchor the pledges from the Copenhagen Accord into the formal text. From that we can improve things.

But I must also say that, no matter what comes out of Cancún, I think it is crucial for us after Cancún to continue to have an intelligent climate policy with ambitious targets, whilst at the same time handling our energy challenges, as you have just been discussing. We can push for innovation and job creation and we can set ambitious targets.

My final point is that we are working to ensure the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty – obviously – and I can assure you that we will inform Parliament’s delegation at every stage of the progress of the negotiations. Of course there will be daily briefings with Parliament’s delegation, and we will try to work very closely together.

We strongly welcome the support indicated in the motion for a resolution to ensure that the EU speaks with one voice. I think that this is one of the main challenges in Cancún: whoever speaks on behalf of the European Union, our partners outside Europe can be sure that they will be met with the same kind of priorities and the same kind of messages. That is the way our priorities will best be heard.

Thank you!

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