Briefing Session for Parliamentarians and Policy Makers: Post Copenhagen, Practical Consequences for Europe

The Panel from left to right: Fujiware, Kennes, van de Gronden, Grant, Hoste, St. Clair

23 March 2010, Residence Palace, Brussels Belgium. Read the full programme.

Chair: Johan van de Gronden, Director WWF Netherlands
Opening: Jos van Gennip, President SID Netherlands
Keynote: Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC

Multi-stakeholder Panel:

  • Noriko Fujiwara, Head of Climate Change and Research Fellow, Centre for European Policy Studies CEPS
  • Walter Kennes, Head of the Environment Sector, "Sustainable management of natural resources" Unit,  Directorate-General for Development, European Commission.
  • H.E  Ambassador Audrey Joy Grant, Head of Mission of Belize to EU
  • Jean-Christophe Hoste, Research Fellow, EGMONT Institute, Belgium
  • Asuncion Lera St. Clair,  Professor, University of Bergen, Norway
  • Main conclusions and closing by Leo Peskett, Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute

Post Copenhagen, Practical Consequences for Europe: Debate Highlights

A briefing session to parliamentarians and policy makers took place on 23 March 2010 within the framework of the EDC 2020 project. The event considered the practical consequences of the Copenhagen outcome and the ongoing international politics of climate change from a European perspective.

Jos van Gennip, President SID Netherlands and the European Programme, started the session with a welcome statement in which the underlined that “it is a perfect time after Lisbon, after Copenhagen, at the start of a new parliament, new commission, to ask ourselves what are the consequences of Copenhagen for our policies of international development cooperation.”

Yvo de Boer

In his keynote speech Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, elaborated on how to move forward after Copenhagen.  While Copenhagen failed to achieve the aim of an internationally legally binding treaty it was important in a number of ways;

(i) It raised the issue of climate change to the top of the political agenda. (ii) It successfully spotlighted a number of critical technical issues that had been on the agenda since Bali. (iii) Although the Copenhagen accord is not a legally binding document, it represents an important political letter of intent.

Mr. de Boer underlined that one should not only look at Copenhagen in legal terms, but also in the context of many of the offers, the strategies, the targets, the commitments, that were being put forward on the road to Copenhagen, and after Copenhagen.

In the run-up to COP 16 in Cancún, Mr. Boer pinpointed some key priorities for 2010:

(i) to rebuild trust and confidence in the process itself. (ii) to make significant progress on the question of finance. Industrialized nations need to meet the financial commitments, which means that 30 billion dollars of short term finance for both adaptation and mitigation needs to move quickly.(iii) to unwrap the question of a legally binding agreement and what legally binding actually means. Many countries indicated that the outcome of this process should be a new legally binding treaty under the climate change convention, but what does legally binding actually mean?

Mr. de Boer also highlighted sets of divergent interests of countries in the negotiations, which can be grouped as the developed countries, developing countries, small island developing countries and ALBA countries are a great challenge to comprehensive global action on climate change.

He stated that there is a need to be realistic in setting the ambitions of the next conference in Mexico while underlining the opportunities for advancing sustainable economic development objectives and climate change objectives at the same time.

Yvo de Boer concluded that “all in all while I agree that the final accord was a disappointment in a legal sense [...] Copenhagen does represent an important change in the process and we can enter a new phase providing we use the outcome of Copenhagen wisely and providing we are sensitive to needs and interests of developing countries.”

The session chair, Johan van de Gronden, Director WWF Netherlands, then gave the floor to the panelists. Noriko Fujiwara, Head of Climate Change and Research Fellow, Centre for European Policy Studies, highlighted the fact that the economic crisis actually made the compliance for the EU2020 target of 30% emission cut less costly. According to the European Environment Agency, the EU has already managed to make a 10% cut, and some researchers claim that if one includes the emission cuts after the economic crisis, the EU has already reached the 20% target.

The second panelist, Walter Kennes, Head of the Environment and Natural Resources Sector in the Directorate-General for Development of the European Commission, elaborated on the positive elements of the Copenhagen Accord for developing countries. As regards the Lisbon Treaty he did not expect a fundamental difference for climate change in the short run. The most important practical change was the creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS) that should have an effect on the delivery of climate change support. He also stated that there is certainly scope of improvement in terms of aid effectiveness and division of labour on the climate change area. He stressed the importance of speaking with one voice among the 27 member countries of the EU and the Commission on climate change issue and to exploit economies of scale in delivery at the EU level.

The third panelist, H.E. Ambassador Audrey Joy Grant, brought a new perspective to the session, as an ambassador from a developing country.  Firstly she reminded the audience that her country, Belize, has considerable sections below sea level, and that it is featured by the World Bank in the top 10 most vulnerable countries to the climate change. She also shared her regrets that European community did not cooperate enough with Latin American and developing countries during the Copenhagen accord. She stressed that “dialogue is the key to restore the trust”, and mentioned that Germany is putting effort on facilitating the dialogues between the parties among the climate change issue. 

Jean Christophe Hoste, Research Fellow at EGMONT Institute, elaborated on the Copenhagen negotiations from the perspective of African countries. He stressed that Africa is ill-equipped to address the climate change issues. However, most of those lacks of capacities have nothing to do with climate change, but development basics, such as poverty eradication, governance, social and regional cooperation.  This being said, he added that in the pre negotiations in Barcelona, the African group did a walk out because they thought their demands were not taken seriously. The intervention of EU eased the process. South Africa is responsible for 39% of the emissions of Africa, and is in the top 12 of carbon emitters in the world. South Africa needs to strike a difficult balance between mitigation efforts and economic growth.

The final panelist Asuncion Lera St. Clair, Professor at the University of Bergen, shed a different light on the discussion by looking at Climate Change from a normative perspective. The relationship between climate change and development, she said, is poorly understood. According to her, there are a lot of generalizations and there is a real need to get on to the details. She also stated that climate change is not only an environmental issue, and there should be integrated research that really integrates different perspective such as humanities, social sciences and law.

Leo Peskett

Leo Peskett, research fellow in Overseas Development Institute and leader of the EDC 2020 Work Package on European Development cooperation and Climate Change summed up key take away messages from the session:

-          Re-establish the trust in the international process through using resources and existing structures quickly and efficiently, and to engage various different and evolving blocs of developing countries.

-          Manage expectations in 2010 and 2011, being more realistic, but at the same time not letting that getting in the way of being ambitious.

-          Build more clarity in terms of legal issues to move forward. Unwrapping the practicalities in financial and legal terms.

-          Build ambitious targets, financial assistance as well, which are demanded by the developing countries.

-          Make existing policies evolve more quickly and more effectively taking on board some of the practicalities.

Report by Selen Esen and Aurélien Lafon


The latest EDC 2020 Working Paper on International Climate Finance: Principles for European Support to Developing Countries was published after the event. A rough draft had been presented to participants for comments.



Keynote speech by Yvo de Boer : Post Copenhagen, Practical consequences
Muliti-stakeholder panel and discussion
Main conclusions of the Briefing Session by Leo Peskett

Presentations by speakers

Background reading