EU insists 30% emissions cut still on the table

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Europe remains prepared to raise its proposed greenhouse gas emissions cut by 2020 from 20% to 30%, according to senior EU officials. This contradicts a report in Monday’s Financial Times that the EU had withdrawn the offer of a 30% reduction.

Europe "wants" to commit to a 30% cut in greenhouse gas emissions and is ready to agree an international formula for long-term financing responsibilities, the EU presidency said in Copenhagen on Monday.

“I'm here to cut the deal,” Sweden’s environment minister Andreas Carlgren told journalists. “The EU really wants to go to 30%.” He added: “I have the mandate needed to deliver also an agreement… on long-term financing. The EU is prepared to agree on an international key that would distribute responsibility for it.”

French environment minister Jean-Louis Borloo and UK prime minister Gordon Brown said they hoped the EU would agree to a 30% cut. “I want to create a situation in which the EU is persuaded to go to 30%,” Mr Brown said according to the Guardian newspaper.

But Mr Carlgren said this would require other parties to put more ambitious reduction pledges on the table. A European Commission spokesperson confirmed that the EU would only raise its target if other countries made "comparable" efforts. Europe has remained elusive over what "comparable" means, but Mr Carlgren suggested negotiators had enough guidance from member states to make the necessary judgment call.

Much hinges on emission-reduction bids from the US and China, he said. Their current proposals – the US is offering a mere 3% cut below 1990 levels – are insufficient to keep the world on track to a target of limiting global warming to 2°C, he added.

US president Barack Obama’s presence at the final days of the Copenhagen conference puts “tremendous pressure” on the US to deliver, Mr Carlgren said. “It would be somewhat astonishing if Obama would attend and on content deliver just what was announced in last week’s press release.”

The European Commission’s number-two negotiator, Rosario Bento Pais last week also said the EU is expecting more ambitious pledges from key players. A new report by British economist Nicholas Stern suggests current pledges could be nearly enough to avoid dangerous climate change but makes several big assumptions, such as that no excess Kyoto credits (AAUs) are carried over beyond 2012.

Two other new reports, one by McKinsey and Project Catalyst and the other by Ecofys and the Potsdam Institute, make far less rosy predictions, NGOs point out.

Follow Up:

UNFCCC, plus opening press release, Swedish EU presidency press release, and Swedish chief climate negotiator Anders Turesson's opening statement. See also ENB coverage and CAN-Europe's "Eco" newsletters.