By Martha Moss - 14th September 2010
Europe is not the problem
EU climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard
International efforts to tackle climate change will fail unless China does more to cut emissions, EU climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard has warned.
Hedegaard told a European Policy Centre debate on Tuesday that Beijing was a "key player" in negotiations ahead of December's crunch climate summit in Mexico.
"They have to be strongly involved if we are going to make a set of ambitious decisions at Cancún," she said.
In a "not too optimistic analysis" of the current state of negotiations, the Danish commissioner said it "looks very difficult for Cancún", with countries including Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba still expected to block an international deal.
While she acknowledged that "we did not achieve everything we wanted" in Copenhagen, she insisted that Europe had made a good effort in reducing emissions.
"Europe is not the problem," she said, rejecting calls from developing countries for the bloc to take a second commitment period to the Kyoto protocol, which expires in 2012.
"Europe signed up to Kyoto, we pledged under Kyoto and we have delivered what we pledged under Kyoto."
A second commitment period to Kyoto would also "take away the pressure to try to bring the US into a formal arrangement [and] take away the pressure from the emerging economies," she said.
The commissioner cited figures showing that Europe only accounts for 14 per cent of global emissions, with China expected to account for around 30 per cent by 2020.
"It goes without saying that if we should have an international deal that can solve the problem then others will have to commit as well," she said.
And she said she was "disappointed" that China was represented by an undersecretary from the local embassy at a recent ministerial in Geneva. "That is not exactly a good sign," she said.
Hedegaard also spoke of the floods in Poland and Pakistan over the summer, the Russian wildfires and the Chinese landslide.
While these disasters were not necessarily down to climate change, she said they were "very much in line" with what scientists had been warning.
"I think there is every reason in the world not to call off the alarm," she said. "Climate change and energy should still be at the top of the agenda."