EU’s Doha negotiating mandate hinges on Poland
By Anne Eckstein in Luxembourg | Thursday 25 October 2012
The Environment Council is under pressure from Poland - supported by the seven other Central and Eastern European member states - which is fighting every inch of the way to prove its case on the question of supplementary credits (assigned amount units or AAUs). The question was one of the last - but by no means the least important - to be resolved at the time of going to press, on 25 October, when ministers were meeting for talks in Luxembourg. The issue must be cleared up in order that the 27 can adopt a negotiating mandate for the UN climate change conference that will take place in Doha, Qatar, from 26 November to 7 December this year.
It is crucial that ministers agree on this issue so that the EU can present a united front at Doha, as well as demonstrating its will to stay at the forefront of the fight against climate change. This is easier said than done, when the main point of disagreement between member states will also be on the table at Doha, and will directly undermine the interests of countries, such as Russia and Ukraine.
The issue has arisen around the question of what should be done with AAUs accumulated during the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol on the reduction of greenhouse gases (2008-2012) when the second period starts in January 2013. Heading a coalition of eight countries, Poland has called for all these credits to be carried over, and to be able to use the AAUs (estimated at three billion tonnes CO
2 equivalent) with no limits whatsoever. As a compromise, the European Commission has proposed carrying over all credits but with limits imposed on their use: this would be restricted to domestic use, with use in other EU countries only permitted on condition that the country concerned and/or the entire EU should raise its ambitions on reducing emissions.
“No limit is acceptable, whether it is for the use or sale of AAUs,” said Polish Minister Marcin Korolec upon his arrival in Luxembourg, adding that such limits would mean “vested interests”. “The Presidency knows very well what is acceptable for member states: another formula is needed,” he said, while denying having made mention of a veto. Perhaps there is no ‘formal’ veto - but Warsaw is in a powerful position, since the mandate, which takes the form of Council conclusions, is adopted by consensus (no vote) but with unanimity.
The Council should also confirm the EU’s will to commit to a second period under the Kyoto Protocol, and to see the Doha conference adopt a decision to make operational the road map adopted in Durban, South Africa, in 2011.
It will also clarify that the EU will keep its promise regarding aid for developing countries, and more particularly to rapid provision of funding; it has almost reached the €7.2 billion promised for the period 2010-2012. At this stage, indicated a source close to the Commission, only three member states have not yet confirmed their contribution.n