EU’s upcoming troika make climate change pledge

Sweden, France and the Czech Republic pledged on Tuesday to make real progress on combatting global warming during their successive EU presidencies and pave the way for a worldwide deal to fight climate change.

The three countries, which will pilot EU policy each for a six-month stint starting with France’s tenure in July, face the challenge of sealing an agreement on the Commission’s climate-energy package.

They also aim to launch talks with a new US administration over global warming and prepare for the Copenhagen UN summit in December 2009 which should hammer out a successor to the Kyoto climate change agreement.

“Our aim is to get a political agreement on the climate-energy package by the end of the year,” France’s ambassador to the Czech Republic, Charles Fries, said at the opening of a conference here organized by the three.

Czech deputy prime minister and environment minister Martin Bursik underlined Prague’s priority of sounding out a new US administration for the EU-US summit in spring next year.

“It will be the Czech Republic, in the name of the EU, that will talk to the US about what agreement on common policies against climate change we are able to reach,” he added.

“That will be important for the Copenhagen conference in 2009,” he added, referring to the talks which, following last year’s Bali summit, will aim to hammer out a global framework for developed and developing countries to combat climate change.

“The overarching aim (of the Swedish presidency) will be for the success of the UN conference in Copenhagen in December 2009 and to reach a new global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” echoed the Swedish ambassador to the Czech Republic, Catherine von Heidenstam.

The Czech Republic, together with Sweden, Germany and Denmark, is working on a proposal for EU countries to offer developing countries substantial funds to help them pursue economic growth without adding to the greenhouse gases blamed for climate change, Bursik told AFP.

The idea is that EU countries would voluntarily earmark a substantial part of the revenues raised from national auctions of carbon dioxide pollution permits for developed countries, he explained.

The proposal would be a substitute for a separate EU Commission call for 20 percent of carbon auction revenues to be set aside for such purposes which, according to Bursik, is set to founder on objections from individual states.

The commission proposed sweeping new legislation on energy and climate change in January — its so-called energy-climate package, designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.