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Brussels, 22 December 2009

Environment: Council Conclusions

European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas joined the Presidency in concluding that the Copenhagen Accord is a first step towards a legally binding global climate agreement. Commissioner Dimas welcomed conclusions on international biological diversity beyond 2010 and on combination effects of chemicals, adopted by today's Environment Council.

Commissioner Dimas said: "A lot of work still needs to be done. We must now ensure that the Copenhagen Accord becomes operational and as such constitutes the core of a new climate treaty. Regardless of what happens internationally, the EU will continue to implement its climate policy. As well as contributing to Europe's environmental sustainability, this will help the EU gain a first mover advantage on the road to building a low-carbon economy."

Copenhagen climate conference

Commissioner Dimas joined the Presidency in concluding that the Copenhagen Accord is a first step towards a legally binding global climate agreement . He said that although the Accord fell well short of the level of ambition that was needed to prevent dangerous climate change, it contained many of the elements the European Union had fought for. This includes recognition of the 2 degree Celsius objective, economy-wide emission reduction targets for developed countries and mitigation action by developing countries by 31 January 2010, and a substantial finance package of USD 30 billion for the coming three years and USD 100 billion by 2020. It also provides for a mechanism to accelerate technology cooperation. He said a crucial first step would be to ensure that all key parties confirm their endorsement of the Accord and notify their targets or actions by 31 January 2010.

International biological diversity beyond 2010

Commissioner Dimas welcomed Council conclusions on a post-2010 global vision and target for biodiversity. The conclusions agree on key strategic principles which should inform the debate. These call for measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound targets based on the best available science. The loss of biodiversity is as great a threat as climate change to the environment, our quality of life and economic prosperity. Besides its intrinsic value, biodiversity also has an important role to play in mitigating and adapting to climate change through the capacity of ecosystems to store carbon dioxide and protect societies against the impacts of climate change. 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity, will be a crucial year for biodiversity policy. Commissioner Dimas said the conclusions would help the Commission in its work at international level and in the run up to the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan, where the new global target will be adopted. The Commission is currently preparing a Communication setting out options for a post-2010 EU vision and target which it aims to present in January.

Co mbination effects of chemicals

The Commission welcomed Council conclusions that agreed on the need for further work to be carried out on the combined effects of chemicals, in particular on endocrine disruptors ─ chemicals that interfere with development, reproduction and hormonal functions. Recent studies in Denmark have highlighted the potential dangers related to the impact of several chemicals acting together. These studies have shown that children, particularly toddlers, may be exposed to potentially harmful levels of endocrine disrupting substances present in food, food wrappings, toys, articles of clothing and healthcare products. Commissioner Dimas said that many studies indicated that a combination of chemicals can cause serious effects and that this was a matter that needed to be addressed. The Commission would look at the issue of 'combined effects' in its fourth report on the implementation of the Community strategy on endocrine disruptors next year, said Commissioner Dimas. The Commission will also complete a report on how combined effects of chemicals are dealt with across different pieces of EU legislation and how they could better be addressed.

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