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8 December 2011 | | | |

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Is the EU playing the ’good guy’ in the fight against climate change?

Download: MP3 (4 Mb)

The European Union (EU) presents itself as the hero in the fight against climate change. However, it delays urgent actions that are needed to fight this crisis, civil society organizations expose at the COP 17 on Climate Change.

The European bloc has a discourse of acceptance of a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, but it conditions its approval to an agreement on the “Durban mandate” that will set a new negotiation path to reach a new agreement. In this way, efficient actions against climate change will last 5 to 10 more years, says environmental federation Friends of the Earth International. The aim of many industrialized countries, besides the EU, is that the new agreement will not provide legally binding cuts of polluting emissions. The system would be based on “pledges”.

Another condition of the EU to continue with the Kyoto Protocol is the strengthening of carbon markets that allow rich countries to offset their polluting emissions by investing in so called “clean” projects in the global South. Many of these projects have had serious social and environmental consequences. What is worse, this is a way for developed countries to avoid reducing their domestic emissions.

Real World Radio interviewed Susan Scherbarth of Friends of the Earth Europe at the COP 17 in Durban, South Africa. She assessed the behavior of the EU at the climate talks. “Unfortunately they played definitively a negative role because their approach is calling for something new and not fulfilling existing obligations we agreed few years ago. That means in the end that the EU is calling for delaying actions, that means it has a big impact in most of Africa. We don’t get anything out of here that tackles climate change and contributes to climate justice”.

The environmental activist highlighted some of the EU’s agreed obligations, which it hasn’t fulfilled: emissions reductions (which according to Friends of the Earth Europe should be of at least 40% by 2020, compared with the 1990 levels) and finance and technology transfer for developing countries for mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Scherbarth was more emphatic on her criticism to the EU’s role at the COP negotiations in Durban and said the bloc is pressuring so that several emerging countries like China agree to legally binding commitments, such as emissions cuts.

China is in fact the world’s current greatest polluter, even though it is topped by the US in per capita emissions. However, the giant Asian country and its recent polluting development cannot be described as historically responsible for climate change, unlike the industrialized countries. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change itself includes the principle of “historical responsibility” where it includes developed countries. Besides, the industrialized world is nowadays responsible for 75% of the overall global greenhouse gas emissions.

Scherbarth said “We would like to see the EU as a leader because they have the potential and they can do it (…) But what we see here again is not the leader at all and they rather blaming developing countries which is not proper at all because they didn’t cause climate change.”

Watch the interview.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/foei/

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