Roundtable: The EU and Climate Change policy, on the sidelines or back in the game ?

Georg Ehring

A roundtable took place on 25 May 2010 in Bonn in the context of the climate conference in Copenhagen and Bonn and as a follow up on the 23 March 2010 Briefing to Parliamentarians on Post Copenhagen: Practical consequences for Europe.  Hubertus Bardt of the Institute of German Economy in Cologne, Imme Scholz of the German Development Institute (DIE) and of the EDC 2020 Climate Change Work Package and Christoph Bals of German Watch were invited as experts.

Speakers addressed questions on climate change in the run-up to the Bonn Climate Change Talks of June 2010 . How can EU leadership and climate policies in the EU further and drive international negotiations and mobilize the international community? What are the lessons of Copenhagen and which strategy is being put in place as the EU moves into UN climate negotiations in Bonn and Cancun? What is the legal impact of the Lisbon Treaty on European climate policy? The roundtable was moderated by journalist Georg Ehring (Deutschland Radio).

Hubertus Bardt

Two major issues emerged during the discussion: the question of European leadership on climate change and the issue of restructuring societies which remain dependent on fossil fuels. In order not to get sidelined, Hubertus Bardt, Institute of German Economy, emphasized the need for the EU to pioneer work in climate protection. He criticized the EU's strategy in the fight against climate change, as he stated that the self-imposed objective of achieving 30% emissions reduction and pushing other countries to commit in return to a 20% cut were not achieved during negotiations in Copenhagen. Mr. Bardt underlined that the EU’s position to unilaterally go up from 20% to 30% led other countries to count automatically on a 30% commitment on the part of the European Union. This in turn considerably weakened the EU's bargaining position during the negotiations whilst setting high expectations, expectations which were not met as the negotiations failed.

Imme Scholz

Imme Scholz, Deputy Director of the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), argued that requirements set within European climate change policies must reflect the gap between countries emitting CO2 and those suffering the most from the negative impacts of such emissions. The EU should take into account the disparities between countries which are affected differently by climate change. There are polluters but also those who are themselves without emissions and suffer disproportionately from the consequences of climate change. Most developing countries are in the latter group. An adequate EU strategy, Ms. Scholz continued, should therefore take into account how to best target policies to take into account the full scope of the impact of Climate Change on developing countries.

Christoph Bals

Christoph Bals, Political Director, Germanwatch, discussed the prosperity of the EU model. Mr Bals highlighted that it is important for the EU not to cut off spending in the global development of climate technologies. The prosperity parameters of health, nutrition, poverty and energy security must be integrated to the climate change policy as failing to do so would only prevent new technologies from performing as they should.  All three panelists agreed that justice in the welfare model will play a decisive role in a response to Climate Change. The panelists agreed that more ambition was needed in order to react appropriately to the challenge of Climate Change, and that limiting negotiations to mere concessions on emissions reduction would not lead developing countries to detect the kind of strong signal needed to address this global issue.

Related EDC 2020 Opinion Piece:

Climate Finance and Europe: lost momentum and challenges ahead by Merylyn Hedger

Opinion No 5 - July 2010

Download the full publication

One of the most depressing aspects of the lost momentum on the post 2012 deal has been the lack of effective leadership from the EU. Despite the strong cards it held for Copenhagen with well-placed Scandinavian ministers, supported by the personal commitment of the heads of France, UK and Germany, it emerged as isolated and weak. Read more.