Governments expects commitment to reduce CO2 emissions
By AOIFE WHITE
BRUSSELS -- Reeling at the failure of climate change talks last week, European governments said Tuesday, Dec. 22, that the pressure is now on the U.S. to make deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions that could lead to a global treaty.
Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren said "expectations and pressure on the United States has raised after Copenhagen" because "some of their most important requirements are fulfilled."
U.S. negotiators "can now show the Senate that they have an agreement with China, India, Brazil and South Africa," he said after leading talks at the 27-nation bloc. "Now the pressure is on the United States to really deliver."
Spain's climate change minister Teresa Ribera Rodriguez -- whose country will take over the EU's rotating presidency from Sweden next month -- said the U.S. must come forward with a commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to match other nations' targets.
"President (Barack) Obama considers himself to be a key player in this Copenhagen agreement, and if you're a key player, you have to be able to live up to that and provide a figure," she said.
The U.S. has so far promised a far smaller cut in CO2 emissions than most other industrialized nations -- 3 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The EU has pledged 20 percent and Japan 25 percent over the same time span.
Ribera said the political agreement reached last week to keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius "was insufficient (with) a long way to travel yet, but we can build on it."
The EU environment ministers' meeting was the first chance for EU nations to take stock of last week's climate accord, which fell far short of their ambitions for a binding global treaty that would allow them step up emissions cuts to 30 percent.
Ministers said they would meet again in Seville in January to figure out how to go forward.
Ribera acknowledged the EU's failure to influence the talks, saying "we need to learn lessons from this. ... We have to be able to be a bit more hard-hitting about what is worthy of our support ... and what we would like to keep our distance from and not go along with."
Carlgren said the Copenhagen talks were "mainly about other countries being unwilling, especially the United States and China."
He warned, however, that it was too soon for the EU to consider taxing imports from countries that don't punish polluters with extra costs.
Heavy energy-using industries -- such as steel and chemicals -- warn that no global deal can put them at a disadvantage to other regions that don't mimic the EU's cap and trade program that adds costs to polluting or energy-intensive industries.