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COP16: climate change talks start in Mexico

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Governments, civil society and business representatives are convening in Cancun, Mexico, on 29 November – 10 December for a United Nations conference (COP16) on combating climate change. In the run up to the conference, the European Union reiterated its desire to see a balanced set of decisions in Cancún.

Recent report from the European Environment Agency shows that greenhouse gas emissions from the European Union are around 17 % below their 1990 levels and the downward trend observed in recent years is expected to continue. Despite these reductions in the EU, global emissions are on the rise. As the EU emissions currently represent around 12 % of the total global emissions, a more comprehensive response is needed in order to limit average global warming to below 2 degrees by the end of this century.

The conference in Cancun is part of UN negotiations aimed at drawing up a global regime to combat climate change for the period after 2012, when key provisions of the Kyoto Protocol will expire. For the EU, the ultimate objective of the UN process must be to establish an ambitious comprehensive and legally binding global framework that engages all countries in combating climate change.

The last negotiating session before COP16 took place in Tianjin, China from 4 to 9 October. Commenting after the Tianjin round, Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action, and Joke Schauvliege, Flemish Minister for the Environment representing the Belgian Presidency of the Council said: ‘There is a strong will that the European Union will continue its leadership in the fight against climate change and will speak with one voice in Cancún. In Cancún we want to see a balanced set of decisions’.

‘In particular we want to see concrete decisions on Forestry, Adaptation, Measurement, Reporting, Verification (MRV) and on Technological Development. We can assure the world that the EU will deliver on the fast start funding. The Parties must build on the Copenhagen Accord’.

‘The EU has no problem with the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol; we have built our EU legislation on Kyoto Protocol principles and therefore we can accept a second commitment period, but we would not do it without conditions. All major economies will have to commit themselves, and areas where the present Kyoto Protocol lacks environmental integrity need to be addressed'.

The EEA supports European policy makers by preparing each year the EU's greenhouse gases inventory report to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and by presenting a yearly overview of the progress actually seen in European countries towards their respective targets under the Kyoto Protocol. Moreover, the EEA addresses climate change in Europe in terms of impact, vulnerability and adaptation measures.

COP16 negotiations can be followed on the UNFCCC website. Latest information on the EU positions will be available at the Belgian EU Presidency website.

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