The European Union is still on the front line in the combat against global warning but does it have the means to enforce its ideas? Indeed we have not yet completed the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty which is in effect blocking us from having any real powers of persuasion in the preparations of the future summit. The first period of commitment to the Kyoto protocol ends in 2012 and the European Union is considering new proposals for progress in the fight against global warming. But without a common energy policy can an effective strategy be put into place? As things stand, Eastern Europe has chosen coal, France and the UK have chosen to develop the nuclear option and while within the EU, Germany is against this type of energy. Nevertheless, the European Commission has issued a statement on the position it will take at Copenhagen.
In this statement, it announces a green plan to boost the development of green energy with the support of the European Bank. It reverts to the issue of financing the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and setting up a global carbon market. The example of France with its carbon tax will doubtless be discussed with its European partners but also and especially with the USA and China.
In January, President Obama expressed his support for the investment in renewable energy and even of carbon dioxide emissions control. But as a nation, the USA is more worried about the economic crisis, the war in Iraq and the reform to the health care system than the fight against global warming. The United States of Obama as with the United States of Bush will remain difficult to convince as it is focused on domestic policy issues. Indeed, the “model” has its problems, primarily that the dollar is undervalued against the Euro, something that was unthinkable when the European currency was introduced. It is also the US economy that has been severely dented by the financial crisis and in the case of General Motors, the cross Atlantic flagship has dented the spirit of the American citizen. Finally there is the political-military conflict with Iraq which will never lead to the hoped for military success projected on so many occasions. Furthermore Afghanistan is becoming a big headache for the Pentagon. The American public is tired of conflict and the withdrawal of troops from Iraq was a major theme in the campaign of the new White house tenant. In this environment of economic, social, political and military difficulties the Europeans will need to be very convincing in their defense of a more eco friendly world. They will undoubtedly realize that despite the euphoria caused by “Obamania” and the election of a black man to the most powerful position in the world, a fantastic and major political feat, this president will not have the time unfortunately to change the United States.
The other difficulty facing this summit is to make the BRIC accept their responsibilities as drivers of climate change. This means that the EU will first have to convince the USA in order to present a common transatlantic position in the negotiations with the emerging countries. Chinese leaders have declared to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon that the People’s Republic of China would like to conclude an agreement on the fight against global warming in Copenhagen. This is already a very important step for drawing up a roadmap for negotiations. A lot of investment has been made in these countries in the development of clean technology. The Asian giant has become the biggest producer of electric cars with a target figure of 500 000 vehicles by the year 2011.China wants the richest developed nations to commit to a 40% reduction of their greenhouse emissions taken at 1990 levels by the year 2020. This figure appears very unrealistic as all industrialized countries want to strengthen their economies as they emerge from the financial crisis and economic recession. This proposal can be translated into a real Chinese strategy, efficient and relevant at the level of International relations and as a powerful, different and new proposal challenging the EU and the USA.
According to a new report by the WWF( World Wildlife Fund) the warming of the Arctic may lead to such catastrophic weather conditions as to threaten a quarter of the worlds population.
The countries who will suffer the most as a result of global warming will be the poorest ones. Europe will experience wetter winters and drier summers. But countries like India and South-East Asia will see their climates disrupted with lower rainfall and reduced harvests. In other places on the planet like Africa, the deserts will advance more rapidly than ever before. In the tropics where the populations of underdeveloped countries are most concentrated, climatic catastrophes’ such as flood and drought will become regular events. All these countries have fewer means to protect themselves than the rich countries. They do not have the money or technical know-how to combat climate change. Under these circumstances we should consider targeted development aid and the transfer of appropriate technology. We need to put together a real plan at a global level with the participation of all countries and citizens.
If the European Union had ratified the Constitution we would have a much stronger negotiating position in Copenhagen as well as in many other forums and in numerous important areas. However, the EU has not even completed the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty…
The European Union should show a powerful negotiating stance with respect to all the decisions which will be taken at an international level or the processes of negotiation will pass it by and history can not be easily undone. The Copenhagen Summit needs a strong, united Europe that continues to put forward innovative ideas in the battle against global warming.