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EU Leaders push for successful outcome in Copenhagen

24 November 2009

The European Union (EU) still holds hope that the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen (7-18 December) could be a success, despite the unlikelihood of agreeing on legally binding carbon emission reduction targets. Meeting ahead of the special European Council of 19 November, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, president of the Copenhagen conference, to discuss the prospects for rallying political support within the EU and internationally, and the possible measures that could be implemented to reach an agreement.

Angela Merkel stressed that “Copenhagen must be a success; we will get there”. “As of the first half of next year, we must have a binding agreement and be able to check that the (emission reduction) targets are really achieved. Political commitments must be taken as of Copenhagen,” she said. Nicolas Sarkozy emphasized that all EU heads of state and government will be present in the high-level session in Copenhagen on 17 and 18 December. Lars Løkke Rasmussen stressed that the agreement must be “binding”. The three leaders said they will increase diplomatic activity over the next two weeks to convince other world leaders to convene in the Copenhagen UN conference.

Climate change was also high on the agenda at the EU-Russia Summit on 18 November in Stockholm, Sweden, where Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced that Russia is planning to commit to raising energy efficiency by 40%, which will help the country cut greenhouse emissions by 20-25% by 2020. By committing to a 10% higher emissions cut—initially Russia had agreed to 15%—Russia is putting its policy in line with the EU, which has pledged to reduce emissions by 20% by 2020. Russia’s emissions reduction pledge would strengthen the EU’s position in Copenhagen. It could also put additional pressure on countries like the US, China and India to come forward with their emission cut targets. The EU has promised to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions by 20 % by 2020, raising the target to 30 %, if other industrialised countries agree to do the same.

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