European policy consultants
Rural development and renewable energy

EU Environment Council (Energy and climate change)

Rio+20 covers the outcome and follow-up to the United Nations conference on sustainable development 2012.
A majority of member states, including the UK, backed the presidency text as drafted and following negotiations, a compromise was tabled. The European Commission tabled a declaration underlining its view that there is no need to review the sustainable development strategy as work is being taken forward under the Europe 2020 strategy.

There was a ministerial lunch hosted by the Cypriot presidency, where discussion focused on climate change, including the outcome of the pre-COP 18/CMP 8 ministerial meeting on climate change held in Korea and climate finance.

Council conclusions were also adopted on the preparations for the 18th session of the conference of the parties to the United Nations framework convention on climate change (COP 18) . Much of the discussion focused our discussions on paragraphs 14 (on the EU QELRO—quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives); 16 (AAUs—assigned amount units); and 29 (climate finance).

Under paragraph 14 (EU QELRO), Ed Davey for UK suggested amending the text to reflect the possibility of a -30% target as well as the current one (which corresponds to an EU target of -20%), since he argued that this would have sent a more positive signal on EU ambition ahead of COP18. The EU’s offer to move to a 30% target is already stated clearly in paragraph 10 of the conclusions.

There was some discussion on how AAUs should be treated as the first commitment period of the Kyoto protocol comes to an end and the EU prepares to move into the second commitment period from 1 January 2013. The presidency proposed a number of compromise texts aimed at bridging differences but these were rejected. As there was no consensus on any new text, the presidency reverted to the text agreed at the March Council, which emphasises the need for environmental integrity.

Several member states emphasised the importance of the EU having a strong position on climate finance before Doha.

Ministers were updated on access to genetic resources and the benefits arising from their use; hazardous substances in textiles; and the mutual acceptance of low emission zones vignettes.

On EU legislation for meeting environmental objectives, in paricular on air quality, the UK argued that new legislation was not necessarily the answer, a greater focus was needed on ensuring that current legislation was delivered.