European Union seeks new allies on climate change | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 22.12.2009
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European Union seeks new allies on climate change

The EU's environment ministers have said the US needs to become more active in climate talks. The 27-nation bloc is on the lookout for new climate allies following the disappointing outcome of the Copenhagen talks.

wind turbine in front of a power plant

What's the next step for the EU's climate policy?

European Union environment ministers on Tuesday scrambled to inject new momentum into climate talks at a meeting in Brussels. The ministers debated how to find new allies following the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, which the EU's Swedish presidency termed a "disaster."

The ministers emphasized the need for concrete, legally binding measures to combat global warming. But German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen also spoke of a "coalition of the like-minded" who want effective climate protection.

"We have to find allies that will join us on the path to the next conferences," Roettgen said. "There are such states, and these new alliances must be organized." Countries such as Japan, South Korea and Australia were named.

The next UN climate conferences take place in Bonn in June and in Mexico at the end of November. Roettgen said the Bonn conference would be "an opportunity to arrive at further steps."

US and China unwilling

Norbert Roettgen and Andreas Carlgren

Roettgen and Carlgren see eye to eye for Europe's climate ambitions

Sweden's Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren chaired the meeting for the last time before he hands over that role to his Spanish counterpart on January 1. Spain is due to take over the EU's rotating presidency at that time, albeit under the aegis of the bloc's full-time president Herman Van Rompuy.

Carlgren described the Copenhagen summit as a "great failure" despite what he called Europe's united efforts.

"Europe never lost its aim, never, never came to splits or different positions," Carlgren said. "But of course, this was mainly about other countries really (being) unwilling, and especially the United States and China."

No concrete suggestions

The EU had hoped to lead the way in forging an ambitious UN deal on fighting climate change. So far, the EU has pledged to cut emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. It had promised to deepen that cut to 30 percent if Copenhagen produced an ambitious deal. But EU leaders ruled out that option as soon as the talks ended.

The two-week, UN-led conference in Copenhagen ended on Saturday with a non-legally binding agreement to limit global warming to a maximum of two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times, but the text did not lay out how to achieve that.

Carlgren called the agreement the "lowest common denominator."

Editor: Chuck Penfold

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