EU environment ministers will meet on Monday (23 November) to define what a successful outcome of Copenhagen's UN climate conference next month would entail.
The Swedish EU Presidency hopes that the additional meeting will help clarify the EU's take on an acceptable agreement now that it has become clear that only a political agreement will be possible at this stage.
One difficult question to be answered is how tightly Europe wants the UN meeting to bind the process towards a legally-binding text, an EU diplomat told EurActiv.
"It's in the EU's interest to get as part of the deal a very precise road map," he said, adding that ministers would probably discuss a concrete timetable towards a legally binding text.
EU leaders are demanding that the framework to be settled in Copenhagen must contain binding commitments, even though the text to give it legal effect will not be hammered out until next year (EurActiv 20/11/09).
Moreover, the EU's own pledge to up its 20% emissions cut target to 30% by 2020 in case of an ambitious agreement will probably come up in the lunch discussions, the diplomat said. He explained that as any agreement in Copenhagen will not be legally enforceable, the EU must decide whether it can still commit to higher obligations.
Nevertheless, the EU is still officially working on the assumption that the conclusions of the conference next month must include binding targets for all developed countries.
Ultimately, EU heads of state and government will retain the right to finalise the Union's commitment when they meet in Brussels on 10-11 December, with most of them set to travel to Copenhagen afterwards to take the temperature of where negotiations are heading, the official pointed out.
While the European Commission and many Western EU member states are keen to push forward an ambitious climate protection goal, most of the new member states from Central and Europe are expected to try to put a break on further commitments (EurActiv 14/10/09).
Minor clarification on funding expected
Another major outstanding point, funding for the new agreement, is not likely to progress at Monday's meeting, the diplomat said. Environment ministers are not ideally placed to influence financial flows as doing so might be considered stepping on finance ministers' territory.
EU heads of state and government last month said that in total, €100 billion a year would be needed to fund emissions reductions and adaptation in poor countries. They estimated that international public financing would have to cover between €22 and €50 billion a year, but did not commit the EU to any specific sums before other parties come clean with their own offers.
The Swedish Presidency would, however, like to clarify the EU's take on US proposals to set up a climate fund that would be administered at least partially by the UN, the diplomat said. Although debated internationally, the EU has yet to take a unified position.Before discussion over lunch, environment ministers will be briefed on the state of negotiations by UN climate chief Yvo de Boer and Danish Minister for Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard, who is hosting the Copenhagen talks. Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas will give an account of progress towards commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and greenhouse gas reduction proposals by other countries.