European Parliament resolves to call Copenhagen outcome ‘disappointing,’ and doles out blame

Publish date: February 10, 2010

NEW YORK – The European Parliament has officially blamed the United States and China for what it called in a resolution a “disappointing” outcome at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen last December.

In the approved resolution, Members of European Parliament said they “regret that the USA and China were not prepared to accept a more ambitious agreement in Copenhagen.”

The parliamentary resolution called on the world’s two largest global warming polluters to come up with further commitments so the world can develop a legally binding climate change treaty.

Eivind Hoff, director of Bellona Europa in Brussels, however, was not as quick to slam the 11th hour US-led efforts at Copenhagen.

“Nobody can blame Obama for not wanting to repeat the mistake of Clinton and Gore of signing a Kyoto Protocol they knew the Senate would not approve, and the US offer was actually in the same range as the EU offer, when using current emissions as baseline,” said Hoff.

“As to China, it bears a heavy responsibility for refusing verifiable measurements of its own emissions. If you don’t know what you’re emitting, how can you know how much you reduce them?” he said.

Members of European Parliament also introduced an element of self-criticism in their resolution, calling for a new “climate diplomacy” that includes unilaterally setting more ambitious emission-reduction targets and urging greater leadership from Europe in general.

The European Union has “failed to play a leading role in the fight against climate change,” members of Parliament said, according to a release obtained by Bellona Web.

The Copenhagen summit concluded in December with an agreement among world leaders to reduce emissions in the major emitting countries, allow international review of those actions, and provide billions of dollar annually to poor nations.

Figures laid on the table in Copenhagen for poorer nations included €10 billion from the EU in so-called ‘fast start funding to help developing nations deal with climate change adaptation and mitigation. The eventual goal is to an annual fund of $100 billion to aid these nations, something pushed heavily by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her appearance in Copenhagen.

But the Copenhagen Accord is not obligatory, and countries set no common emissions goal to strive for –  a failing most countries and environmental groups have criticised – opting instead to let each country set its own goals in the run-up to UN climate talks in Mexico in December of this year.

Yet leaders in Copenhagen, while hinting broadly that they would like to see a legally binding agreement forged in Mexico, set no hard deadline for when a legally binding agreement between nations should be reached.

The European Union, meanwhile, has sought to find its footing since the conference, where it was largely sidelined by the United States, China, India, Brazil and South Africa. In literally the final hour of the summit, President Obama and leaders from those four fast-developing nations hashed out the closing details of the agreement in the absence of any EU representatives.

Analysts partially blamed the lack of unity among the European Union’s 27 member states, or the absence of a single leader to speak for the body. Members of Parliament tried to address that yesterday, calling for the European Union to “speak with one voice” in future international climate negotiations, the parliamentary resolution said.

The resolution urged a new “climate diplomacy” strategy led by the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and the commissioner on climate action that particularly focuses on working with developing countries.

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