Germany pushes EU partners on climate rules

EU presidency to call special ministerial if no deal soon on Kyoto mechanisms ceiling

The German presidency of the EU has said it will summon environment ministers to an emergency meeting in May if diplomats cannot agree a common approach on how developed countries should meet emissions limitations obligations under the Kyoto climate change protocol.

At a high-level meeting of national officials in Brussels today, Germany said it was determined to get a clear EU position before a meeting of Kyoto protocol signatories in June. EU environment ministers failed to agree on the issue at their last meeting earlier this month (ENDS Daily 12 March). Germany is now planning to hold an extraordinary Environment Council session on 18 May to settle the issue, unless national negotiators could accept something close to the compromise text already proposed.

Although all EU countries have agreed that there should be a "concrete ceiling" on any industrialised country's recourse to mechanisms such as emission trading in achieving their Kyoto targets, they disagree on how exactly this should be achieved and at what level it should be set. Germany has now re-tabled a complicated formula - under discussion at the last meeting - which would work out a specific tradable amount of carbon dioxide for each country.

The presidency has asked member states to come forward with any objections, which it plans to deal with on a bilateral basis. It has decided not to send the issue back to lower-level working groups for fear that progress achieved so far might be completely undone.

The Netherlands has pushed the hardest to get a less stringent formula and is the country mostly likely to call for changes to the text, according to EU sources. Sweden, Finland and Ireland also reported to favour greater flexibility to use emissions trading rather than having to make domestic emissions cuts, while other countries, such as Austria, are continuing to push for a strict 50% limit on the use of Kyoto mechanisms.

Follow Up:
EU Council of Ministers, tel: +32 2 285 6111.

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