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EU Sees Resistance From U.S. to China for Its Climate ‘Road Map’

December 01, 2011

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- The European Union said the world’s three nations that pollute the most are the biggest obstacles to setting a time line to a legally binding pact on global warming and that it won’t “cave in” on its demands.

China, the U.S. and India seem the most reluctant to sign up to the EU’s “road map” pointing toward the next climate treaty after the limits in the current one expire next year, said Artur Runge-Metzger, the EU’s lead envoy on the environment.

“The biggest barriers are the major emitters when it comes to the road map,” Runge-Metzger said today in an interview at United Nations talks in Durban, South Africa. “Legally-binding is a red line. It’s absolutely essential to get that road map.”

The fate of the EU’s time line is the key toward preserving the Kyoto Protocol, which restricts fossil fuel emissions through 2012. China, India and Brazil say extending that treaty is essential to keeping the international system of rules on climate change. Japan, Russia and Canada refuse to sign up for new commitments under Kyoto. The U.S. never adopted the treaty.

The EU is part of a “coalition of ambition” seeking a time line at the talks, said Kelly Dent, chief climate policy adviser for the development charity Oxfam, noting support for the proposal from African and island nations and the bloc of least developed countries.

“If India, China or Brazil joined them, it would put enormous pressure on the others and the U.S.,” Dent said. “We can’t have the Kyoto Protocol die on African soil.”

EU Proposal

The EU wants the largest emitters to agree by 2015 on a binding pact to be enacted in 2020 at the latest and offered in exchange an extension to its carbon-reduction goals under Kyoto. That would require China and other developing nations whose emissions weren’t capped under Kyoto to accept mandatory targets.

Debate over Kyoto is the biggest political source of friction at the talks this year and nearly derailed last year’s agreement in Cancun, Mexico. The envoys also are debating a package of technical measures that would advance the fight against global warming, including details about how a Green Climate Fund would work, channeling as much as $100 billion a year to developing nations by 2020.

The U.S. clubbed together with Saudi Arabia and Venezuela yesterday in raising concerns about the fund, forcing the UN to undertake informal consultations to find a resolution. Envoys had hoped to endorse the proposal this week.

The EU comments indicate little room for flexibility over the road map plan. The EU has done the most to trim carbon emissions since the pact was negotiated in 1997, and its support for the measure is important for Kyoto’s preservation.

‘Will Not Cave’

“There must be a clear understanding that the result of this roadmap is going to bind all countries,” Runge-Metzger said. The EU “will not cave in” on its request, he said, adding that the Kyoto treaty is insufficient as it stands.

“The Kyoto Protocol with 11, 12, 13, 14 percent of emissions is just not going to win the fight against climate change,” he said.

Earlier this week, Chinese envoy Su Wei said the EU’s request is “shifting the goal posts” and leaving the climate talks “in peril.” Brazil’s delegate said his country couldn’t envision an agreement this year without an extension for Kyoto.

Runge-Metzger said “China thinks it’s too early for the roadmap” and that the world should wait on a broader system of greenhouse gas limits until a review of climate science by the UN is complete in 2014.

U.S. and India

The U.S. has said it wouldn’t commit to a road map promising a treaty until it had a sense what that agreement would look like. India has said developed nations should move first in making cuts in recognition of their “historic responsibilities” for creating global warming.

“What we observe is there as an interest to discuss and explore in terms of what would it mean, what would it look like, what would it entail for the different parts of the world, what type of time lines, so it’s quite constructive in that respect,” Runge-Metzger said.

“We need to find a way forward with them,” he said. “There are many other developing countries who are with us and saying ‘we want to embark on that journey, and we want to see a legally binding instrument in a few years time.’”

--Editors: Reed Landberg, Tony Barrett

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in Durban, South Africa via

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg via

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