Bangkok 2012 – Lead EU negotiator Runge-Metzger says a 30% emission reduction target is still possible

By John Parnell

The EU has not ruled out increasing the ambition of its 2020 emission cuts to 30%, the bloc’s lead negotiator Artur Runge-Metzger has said.

Reports from the current UN climate talks  in Bangkok had suggested that the EU had ruled out an increase from the current 20% with a representative quoted as saying “25% is not reality, its wishful thinking”.

However, speaking to RTCC, Runge-Metzger said this is not the case.

“I think there was some false reporting about something I said in one of the closed meetings,” he said.

“We have also said that we are not closing the door, our 30% offer stays on the table and we have also offered to have a review of our targets that would be adopted in Doha in the years thereafter,” added Runge-Metzger.

“The negotiations are ongoing as to how such a review needs to be framed and conducted and how we can give some reassurance that this would move into the right direction, at the right speed so that it is not just a delay but is a serious undertaking.

“There is no decision taken. In terms of our assessment of the situation at the present time, other countries are not ready to move. We have been very clear in the past that if we are to move from 20% to 30%, the conditions must be right. We have had further discussions and concluded that those conditions are not right this year.”

The EU says it will sign up for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol at the UN climate summit in Doha this November . This will see developed nations (designated as Annex I by the UNFCCC) make legally binding cuts.

Developing nations will make non-binding pledges to reduce their emissions under the Bali Action Plan.

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The conditions Runge-Metzger refers to include other key nations, such as the US and major developing countries like China and India, demonstrating their own willingness to raise emission reduction ambitions.

“We look, in particular, at the industrialised countries but we’ll also be looking at the emerging economies in terms of whether they could take further steps. This discussion should start next year,” he said.

In terms of the views of the EU’s constituent members on raising the target, Runge-Metzger says there is still no consensus.

“Quite a number of member states want to move earlier rather than later to 30% but there is also some hesitation from some members,” he said.

A number of EU countries with a high reliance on coal such as Poland argue the higher cut in emissions could require a rapid transformation of their energy infrastructure and impact export revenues of certain, dirtier fossil fuels.

Other analysts have told RTCC investment in energy efficiency programmes – particularly insulating housing stock – would make this an easier process than critics suggest.

Runge-Metzger also pointed to the EU’s own legislation on energy efficiency and short-term climate forcers as an example of the bloc’s “sincerity” in tackling the so-called ambition gap, which is the disparity between pledged greenhouse gas cuts and those recommended by the science.

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