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       Energy and Environment 27/01/2010
Towards a post-Copenhagen climate change agreement

On 27 January 2010, the Spanish Minister for Environment and Agriculture Mrs Elena Espinosa spoke in front of the European Parliament Environment Committee in Brussels. The Minister answered the various questions raised by MEPs targeting issues like an after-Copenhagen agreement, CCS, water and soil policy etc.


Referring to the Copenhagen summit, the Minister asked to look forward (the “road to Mexico”) and to maintain/increase EU leadership at international level. She stressed that, in an international context, the EU should not solely focus on the US, but should also make important efforts when it comes to emerging and developing countries. She admitted that work had to be processed quickly from now on in order to forge a binding agreement leading to global emission reductions.


With view to water policy, she pointed out that water is an increasingly scare asset and that therefore appropriate water management measures should be reinforced/ put in place. This includes the introduction of new technologies (to purify and recycle water, desalination plants for using sea water) and new efficiency technologies (industrial use of water and irrigation). Water management should be flexible, taking into account the larger water consumption of a Mediterranean tourism-oriented town during summer months. The Framework Directive on Water should be improved therefore and draught plans put in place.  The Minister also mentioned the International conference on water and draught on 18 February.


On Carbon Capture and Storage Mrs Espinosa underlined the necessity to invest in this kind of technologies with the greatest effort possible. Even though today it is not possible to predict 100% the output of the CCS projects some of which are already underway, there is not doubt about following up this path. At the same time, we must not forget innovation, research and development, the Minister reminded.


Moreover, she mentioned the Soils and Pollution legislative package and the soon expected Commission proposal on biodiversity.

In the specific case of the Industrial Emissions Directive, the Spanish Presidency is determined to push ahead and even though an immediate agreement seems to be difficult to find among the EP and the Council, the Minister said she was optimistic to achieve a compromise sooner or later.


Disappointment reigned during EP Plenary session last week


Overall, MEPs looked back with disappointment at the Copenhagen climate conference during its meeting on 20 January. There were a few rays of optimism with Jo Leinen MEP, the head of the EP delegation to Copenhagen saying the EU needed to find "strategic partners" in the run up to the next climate conference in November. Others welcomed progress on financing as developed countries committed $30 billion to help developing states adapt.


Dutch EPP Member Corien Wortmann-Kool, who attended the conference, said that the EU's "30% must still stand". She went on to appeal for people not to lose hope: "We have to review our strategy but we still have to cling to our ambition."

French ALDE Member Corinne Lepage said, Europe had "to maintain our position as world leaders". She called for "a robust and ambitious strategy to move the economy in a more energy efficient direction."


At the conference there was movement on climate as all developed countries (including the US) agreed to work within the same international framework. The Copenhagen Accord, which is not legally binding, also includes a "method for verifying" developing nations' emission reductions. In addition developed countries committed themselves to pay $30 billion between 2010 and 2012 in climate support to developing countries.


However, the conference failed to come up with any legally binding targets.

Speaking in the plenary Finnish Green Satu Hassi (Greens/EFA) said for the first time in a UN document there is a reference to 2 degree limit. However, she also said "it is quite clear that there are some who wanted to sabotage the agreement" and called for a reform to the UN decision making system.


The EP is voting on the resolution of the results on COP15 in February's plenary. The next UN summit on climate change takes place in Mexico 29 November - 10 December 2010. The end of 2012 is the deadline for the ratification of a new global climate deal.


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