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European Law Monitor NewsHalving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050: MEPs outline the mandate for Bali

Binding emissions targets for all industrialised countries; a global "cap and trade" system; and a 50 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of this century. These, according to a resolution adopted by the European Parliament, should be some of the EU's core targets for the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Bali.

Commitments made under the Kyoto Protocol for reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions run to 2012. It is the EU's aim to ensure that the December 2007 UN Conference in Bali mark the first step in building a post-2012 framework on tackling climate change.
The European Union, MEPs stress, must confirm its "leading role" at Bali, ensuring that Conference members begin to establish "a realistic framework for an international post-2012 climate agreement". A future climate change regime, they add, should be based on the principles and mechanisms of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol.
The Bali mandate, according to the report, drafted by Satu Hassi (Greens/EFA, FI), should centre on the long term goal of limiting average global temperature increase to below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. This, notes the text, effectively means reducing global greenhouse gas emissions "by at least 50% by 2050 compared to the 1990 level". (As the text acknowledges elsewhere, the latest evidence suggests that even the 2 °C goal "might not be sufficient to avoid significant negative effects of climate change").
The mandate should also be based on the following elements:
- binding targets for all industrialised countries
- broader participation in reduction efforts, in particular by emerging economies through fair and proportionate targets
- a global "cap and trade" system based on a fair and proportionate allocation of quotas
- strengthened financial mechanisms for adaptation
- effective incentives to avoid deforestation (accounting for some 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions) , including the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices
- instruments, financial and other, for clean development and technology transfer and deployment (including further development of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
- agreement by 2009 at the latest;
Elsewhere, the EP also reiterates its call for aviation and maritime transport emissions to be included in global greenhouse gas reduction commitments for the post-2012 period.
The adverse consequences of climate change are distributed unequally, note MEPs. In addition to being an "environmental catastrophe", they add, climate change also raises issues of human rights and global equity. It is necessary, therefore -- the text speaks, in fact, of a "moral obligation" -- for the EU and other industrialised nations to assist developing countries. More economically advanced developing nations, however, ought to "be able to begin emission or carbon intensity reductions as soon their development permits, at the latest by 2020".
Industrialised countries, meanwhile, must lead by example, MEPs insist, committing themselves to reducing emissions "by at least 30% by 2020 and 60% - 80% by 2050 compared to 1990". The Parliament recalled, at the same time, that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently acknowledged the role of nuclear energy as an option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That said, MEPs believe that," where reasonable, energy needs should be met from all available carbon-free sources or low-emission technologies, including nuclear."
The resolution was adopted with 398 votes in favour, 29 against, with 63 members abstaining.
The European Parliament will dispatch an official delegation to the Bali conference between 11-14 December.

Further information:

Motion for a resolution on limiting global climate change to 2 degrees Celsius • the way ahead for theBali Conference on Climate Change and beyond (COP 13 and COP/MOP 3)
EP Temporary Committee on climate change
Climate change committee looks to post-Kyoto future - 04.10.2007
United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali
Text, as adopted by the EP on 15 November, will shortly be available here