EU policies and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: Towards a European Climate Change Programme (ECCP)
The year 2000 will be crucial for climate change. The 6th Conference of the Parties (COP6) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in November should deliver decisions on the issues left unfinished in Kyoto, in particular on the flexible mechanisms and compliance. From March this year, all political energy in the climate field around the world will be geared towards that major rendez-vous.
In Bonn in 1999, the EU urged all Parties to ratify the Kyoto Protocol as soon as possible after COP6 in order to ensure its entering into force by the Rio+10 Conference in 2002. The EU is committed to put this political commitment into policy action. A positive element in this context is the decision of the European Council in Helsinki to ask the Commission to prepare a proposal for a long-term strategy dovetailing policies for economically, socially and ecologically sustainable development to be presented to the European Council in June 2001.
The EU intends to start the political process on ratification of the Kyoto Protocol immediately after COP6. This discussion will have several dimensions, but at least 2 are of major importance:
1. The burden sharing agreement that was agreed by the Council in 1998 will have to be incorporated into a legal instrument. The –8% target for the EU as a whole has been shared out amongst Member States so as to allow for different economic development patterns. The legal translation of the burden sharing agreement will allow the ratification of Kyoto jointly by the Member States as well as by the EC.
2. An implementation strategy will be needed to accompany the ratification instrument. This is a question of political credibility. It will be necessary to spell out which policies and measures will have to be undertaken, and how the so-called flexible mechanisms will be implemented within the EU and with other Parties from industrialised as well as developing countries .
Several difficult issues will have to be resolved, not least those which affect the respective responsibility of each Member State and of the European Community. There are questions related to protecting the internal market, to different sector policies and others related to the fact that the EU would be legally bound to comply with the –8% objective for the Community as a whole.