U.N. Climate Summit in Doha Should Identify `Mitigation Gap,' European Parliament Says

Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...

BRUSSELS--The U.N. climate summit that begins in Doha, Qatar, on Nov. 26 should adopt a decision identifying the “mitigation gap” between current greenhouse gas emissions and safe levels, which must be closed if global warming is to be kept to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, according to a European Parliament resolution approved Nov. 22.

The gap should then be continuously monitored while measures are developed to help close it, such as the phaseout of fossil fuel subsidies, the resolution said. European Parliament lawmakers adopted the resolution by a 485-109 vote at a plenary sitting in Strasbourg, France.

The resolution said a “mitigation gap” decision should be part of an effort by countries to do far more than has been pledged in the short term to cut their emissions, because “the effects of climate change are more rapid and more pronounced than previously predicted.”

The International Energy Agency considers an increase of 2 C to be a threshold beyond which catastrophic climate events will become more likely.

The “pledge and review” system for emissions reductions that was introduced at the 2009 U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen should be reconsidered because it “will not bring about the fundamental changes needed in order to fight climate change in the long run,” the resolution said.

The main outcome of the Copenhagen summit was the Copenhagen Accord, to which countries’ emissions reduction pledges are appended, and which stated that implementation of the pledges would be assessed by 2015.

Kyoto Continuation Backed

The resolution expressed the European Parliament’s position ahead of the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP-18) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will take place in Doha Nov. 26-Dec. 7.

The European Union will be represented at the summit by negotiators from the European Commission and Cyprus, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council, the EU body that represents the governments of member states.

Beyond calling for identification and monitoring of the mitigation gap, the European Parliament’s resolution largely repeated resolutions adopted before previous U.N. summits. For example, it backed a reform of the U.N. Clean Development Mechanism and called on the European Union to raise its own emissions reduction target to 30 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels.

A 30 percent target would be “in the EU’s own interest” because it would create green jobs and reduce fossil fuel imports, the resolution said.

The resolution also endorsed the strategy adopted at the 2011 COP-17 meeting in South Africa that the Kyoto Protocol should continue beyond 2012 for an interim period until a new global deal is concluded and renewed emissions reduction obligations can come into force by 2020.

Kyoto 2 an 'Empty Casing'

Karl-Heinz Florenz, a German center-right lawmaker and prominent member of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, said that “so far, Kyoto 2 is no more than an empty casing. We need to fill it with concrete pledges, set a robust framework and must strive to get other partners to sign up to it.” A number of countries have said they will not participate in a second commitment period.

The EU Council stated its position for the Doha conference in October. It reaffirmed that the bloc would back a second Kyoto Protocol commitment period, would push for a broader international deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol to be agreed on by 2015 so that it can go into force by 2020, and would seek to make progress on measures approved in Durban.

By Stephen Gardner  

The European Parliament resolution on the Doha climate conference is available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=phey-92bnqq starting on Page 116.

Request Environment & Energy Report