Europe more firmly entrenches itself in battle against climate change

Stavros Dimas
Eurpean Commission

Publish date: November 14, 2006

Written by: Anne Karin Sæther

In a recent interview with Bellona Web, the European Commission’s (EC’s) commissioner for the environment, Stavros Dimas, said “we have the necessary tools to tackle Climate Change, and we will,” more firmly entrenching Europe’s position on combating global warming in the wake of the so-called Stern report.

Dimas praised the Stern review – the UK government issued review released last month appraising the catastrophic economic impact that global climate change would have world-wide if not stopped in the very near future.

“It is an excellent report. It confirms that we can simply not afford to wait and see. The only sensible insurance against climate change is to reduce emissions” Dimas told Bellona Web.

Climate conference in Nairobi
Dimas will present his views at the Nairobi Climate Change summit, which is currently underway, together with Sir Nicholas Stern, the former chief economist of the World Bank who wrote the eponymous Stern review. They will be accompanied by a number of international politicians, organizations and researchers.

Yesterday, Kofi Annan, the secretary general of the United Nations (UN), delivered his speech to the summit, and he used strong words regarding United States’ weak efforts in the battle against global warming. The United States has neither signed the Kyoto protocol nor committed itself to any other significant CO2 cuts.

“They have to act. The USA has a responsibility to its own citizens and the rest of the world to get their emissions under control,” said Annan according to Norwegian daily Aftenposten.

US Leadership
The United States, along with a number of other countries that are not in signatories to the Kyoto Protocol, such as Australia, China and India – participate in what is known as The Convention Dialogue – effectively a shadow international dialogue forum to the Kyoto accord – about climate change. These countries are expected to wrap up their work in 2007, but Dimas thinks they will be far from any solutions by such an early date.

In any case, decisions emerging from the dialogue forum are non-binding. Without a new US administration – which will not come before 2008 – 2007 will be far too early for the dialogue forum to have arrived at agreement on any kind of international climate change combating framework.

But Dimas placed his hopes in the Conference of Parties (COP), the group of signatory nations to the Kyoto protocol.

“.. we already have enough ammunition to recommend to the COP a negotiation agenda that covers both the US and rapidly developing countries…” said Dimas.

EC’s Climate Plan
At the beginning of next year The EC will issue a issue a “Green Book” for post 2012, when the Kyoto Agreement officially ends. Central questions in this work are: How will the international climate change framework develop after 2012? And what sort of EU politics needs to be in place in order to attain the necessary reductions in EU?

The “Green Book” will be launched together with an energy package. The energy and climate question are closely related. Dimas and The Bellona Foundation share the same view on what needs to be done in order to accomplish effective measures against climate change: energy efficiency, renewable energy and carbon capture and storage (CSS).

“We know the problem; and with Mr. Stern’s report we know so much more about the consequences,” Dimas said. “What is even more important, we have the tools to tackle them; and we will.”