Europe has to stay on track

European Institute of Romania

Agnes Nicolescu
 
Europe needs to stand by its current reduction objective
 
With few exceptions, the result of the Copenhagen conference, more exactly the content of the agreement, is seen as moderate progress, given the limitations of the document, namely the “political character of the provisions, the minimal compromise tendency and the lack of any formally assumed obligations by the main carbon gas polluters.”[1] On a more positive note, Radu Dudău, the author of a policy brief dealing with this topic, remarks – in spite of the serious deficiencies of the format of the conference negotiations, which have highlighted structural gaps between actors from developed countries and those from emerging economies in terms of concrete arguments brought to the table – “in the near future, signatory states will have to go through with the political promises assumed.”[2]
 
The Romanian media has emphasised the necessity to maintain the fundamental goal of a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as well as the diplomatic struggle among the major international actors involved in negotiations. One of the central issues of the Copenhagen conference held in December 2009 was finding out whether a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol or the creation of a completely new treaty, of which the United States would be a part as well, was necessary.[3] Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Karl-Heinz Florenz, vice-president of the parliamentarian delegation to Copenhagen, considers the USA and China as the key negotiators at the moment: “A problem is the fact that [the] G77 does not speak with one voice.”[4] Jo Leinen, the president of the parliamentarian delegation to Copenhagen, considers that the EU needs to stand by its already assumed objectives to combat climate change in order to maintain its credibility as a major voice on the international scene: “Cutting down the objective of 30 percent will question the European Union’s leader status in the negotiations and encourage other countries to reduce their own objectives.”[5]
 
Greater independency from traditional energy sources
 
The EU’s integrated policy on energy and climate change, adopted in December 2008, is still very much a major subject of analysis in Romanian society, but the reform of European energy policy is generally tackled as separate from the framework of the international negotiations, except for the episode of the Copenhagen conference. The European energy policy is discussed from the perspective of the necessity to considerably reform energy production and consumption so as to stay in line with the assumed commitments of combating climate change. A reformed EU energy policy should therefore strive to achieve greater independency from traditional energy sources such as imported oil and gas, ensure access to more diverse forms of renewable energy and less exposure to unstable energy prices and energy deliveries.[6]
 
The European Union needs to concentrate on developing the current energy infrastructure (gas and oil pipelines as well as electricity lines), as well as continually adapting it in order to be compatible with renewable energies. The EU’s energy strategy requires additional efforts to enhance energy efficiency, diversify energy resources, correct the behaviour of European energy consumers and consolidate international cooperation on these issues.[7]
 
A global binding agreement is the key
 
The Romanian media mainly focuses on a global agreement with legally binding commitments as the best strategy within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in order to fight climate change, and, to a lesser extent, develop alternative strategies which the European Union might adopt. A binding agreement for all countries is the main objective of negotiations, which are to be held in 2010 in Mexico, once the United States adopts the necessary legislation to set a final target and a roadmap for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.[8]
 
The alternative strategies discussed in the media are strongly inspired by those proposed by the European Commission in order to reach the assumed reduction targets and include greater investment in developing low carbon emissions technologies, especially in developing countries; internationally-funded innovative sources; and the establishment of an international carbon market by 2015.
 
For Romania, a 20 percent reduction is a realistic objective
 
Despite previous statements made by Romanian President Basescu with regard to pursuing the ambitious 30 percent reduction target,[9] recent documents issued by the Department for European Affairs point out that, for the moment, Romania may stand by an objective no greater than 20 percent.[10] The Romanian head of state also considers that the financial burden needs to be shared mostly by highly developed countries and the greatest polluters. Referring to actual costs involved by the implementation of the reduction objectives, “the quota pertaining to Romania involves additional costs but I believe these costs will generate benefits for Romanians, as we subscribe this carbon emissions’ reduction policy to a modernization trend [of Romania].”[11]

As far as financing mitigation is concerned, the focus is on exploring mechanisms which finance the reduction of gas emissions as well as clean technologies. The latter mechanism is aimed at accelerating the implementation of clean energies or low-carbon emissions in developing countries.[12]


[1] Radu Dudău: Acordul de la Copenhaga: ceva mai mult decât nimic“, Policy Brief, IDR, no. 19, December 2009, available at: http://www.idr.ro/publicatii/policy%20brief%2019.pdf (last access: 14 July 2010).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Mediafax: Atmosferă tensionată la Conferinţa de la Copenhaga, unde chiar şi sigla provoacă divergenţe, 9 December 2009, available at: http://www.mediafax.ro/externe/atmosfera-tensionata-la-conferinta-de-la-... (last access: 18 May 2010).

[4] European Parliament: One day to go at Copenhagen COP15: Can the world deliver?, 17 December 2009, available at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+IM-PRES... (last access: 19 May 2010).

[5] Ibid.

[6] Revista 22: Iniţiativele UE de combatere a schimbărilor climatice, 14 February 2010, available at: http://www.revista22.ro/ini355iativele-ue-de-combatere-a-schimb259rilor-... (last access: 19 May 2010).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Livia Cimpoeru: Scenariu posibil pentru Copenhaga, 17 December 2009, available at: http://www.green-report.ro/stiri/pscenariu-posibil-pentru-copenhagap (last access: 19 May 2010).

[9] Robert Mihăilescu: Traian Basescu despre conferinta Copenhaga: susţinem fără rezerve reducerea cu 30% a emisiilor de carbon, Revista 22, 16 February 2010, available at: http://www.revista22.ro/traian-basescu-despre-conferinta-copenhaga-susti... (last access: 17 May 2010).

[10] Department for European Affairs: Document de fundamentare pentru stabilirea la nivel naţional a valorilor de referinţă ale obiectivelor Strategiei Europa 2020, 12 May 2010, available at: http://www.dae.gov.ro/admin/files/Tinta%20reducere%20gaze%20cu%20efect%2... (last access: 19 May 2010).

[11] Ibid.

[12] Comisia Europeană: Acţiuni internaţionale, 18 December 2009, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/campaign/what/fightingcc_ro.htm (last access: 19 May 2010).
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