Much of the political chatter across Europe this morning is about the prospect of ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair becoming the new President of the European Council, if and when the Lisbon Treaty is ratified by all Member States.
But behind the scenes at today’s Brussels Summit a huge political row is raging over not only Blair, but also climate.
The clock is seriously ticking with just 38 days left but deep divisions persist within the EU, in contrast to the united front it has been trying to portray.
The deep divisions exist on two issues:
The EU is committed to cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20% by 2020 and by up to 30% if other countries join in. However there is said to be infighting over this 30 per cent figure, with some EU countries wanting it watered down.
Secondly EU states are fighting over how much they are prepared to pay developing nations to fight climate change. The split is described as “an east-west rift”, between the richer Western EU countries such as Germany and France and the newer members such as Eastern European countries and Poland.
The European Commission has recommended EU nations pay up to 15bn euros ($22bn; £13bn) a year from 2013 to developing nations to help them cope with climate change.
Whilst aid and environmental groups have said Europe should be prepared to pay more than twice as much, Poland and other Eastern European countries say they cannot afford that much
Talks last week on how to fund such aid collapsed as EU finance ministers disagreed over how to share the costs.
The Summit chairman Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish prime minister, has now appealed to his EU counterparts to compromise on the figure, which he said was key to breaking the deadlock in international negotiations before Copenhagen.
Reinfeldt says “We have a risk for a clear deadlock in the negotiations. The emerging economies are looking for financing and without it they will not make the required reduction targets.”
His pessimism is shared by others. “We do not think it will be possible to decide all the finer details for a legally binding regime that conforms to international law,” the Prime Minister of Denmark Laks Loekke Rasmussen has now said.
One solution to new costs is reducing existing ones. According to numerous studies, world governments spend one quarter trillion dollars per year directly and indirectly subsidizing exactly what we don’t want to do – create climate catastrophes and other disasters by promoting mined hydrocarbon burning. Copenhagen should make it law that the first step to “carbon pricing” is rapid ending of government subsidies that perversely lower real costs. Then we might address external costs (including public health) that are an order of magnitude greater than the “market price.”
By the way, there is no market. It is national security and economic policy. “It’s the policy stupid, or it’s the stupid policy.”
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