Ministers from the EU environment and finance councils have adopted conclusions setting out the EU's position ahead of UN climate talks in November, urging ambitious action to cut emissions, and setting out key deliverables ahead of the negotiations.
The environment council warned that current greenhouse gas emissions trends will have "devastating" consequences, and warned that global emissions need to peak by 2020.
The council met in Luxembourg Monday and adopted conclusions on the preparations for COP19 -- the 19th session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, set to take place in Warsaw from November 11-22.
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"The conclusions set out the main elements of the EU position in view of the Warsaw Climate Conference, focusing in particular on implementation of existing decisions and further progress on both tracks of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action," the council said in a statement late Monday.
The Durban platform was a set of agreements made in 2011, in which more than 190 countries agreed, among other things, to work on a global climate protection deal in 2015, with legal force, to take effect in 2020.
"This year [the] conference in Warsaw and next year's conference in Lima will be the last stages before reaching the global agreement in Paris in 2015," the council said.
The council noted with concern the latest findings of the Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said global warming is unequivocal and that it is "extremely likely" that humans are the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century.
"Recent authoritative reports from the IPCC and other institutions demonstrate the devastating consequences of current emission trends if left unchecked," the council said.
Global emissions need to peak by 2020 at the latest and be reduced by at least 50% by 2050 compared with 1990 levels, and continue to decline thereafter, the council said.
The EU continues to decouple emissions from economic growth, the council said, noting that EU emissions in 2011 were 18.3% below 1990 levels, while GDP has grown by more than 40% over the same period.
The council said the main deliverable from the Warsaw talks is a "balanced package of decisions" that includes implementing previous decisions as well as further work on a global deal. EMISSIONS GAP
The council is determined to close the gap between existing pre-2020 emissions mitigation plans and the trajectory required to keep warming limited to 2 degrees Celsius, by preparing the ground for adopting in 2015 "an ambitious single globally legally-binding agreement applicable to all," it said.
Industrialized countries should cut their emissions by 25%-40% below 1990 levels by 2020, while developing countries as a group should achieve a 15%-30% deviation below the currently predicted emissions growth rate, the environment council said.
The council reaffirmed its conditional offer to move to a steeper 30% reduction by 2020 "as part of a global and comprehensive agreement for the period beyond 2012," contingent on comparable ambition by other developed countries, including adequate contributions from the fast-developing economies.
The council also reaffirmed its October 2009 conclusions regarding the need to agree on global emissions reduction targets for international aviation and maritime transport, consistent with staying with the 2 degrees target.
To achieve that goal, the council urged parties to continue working through the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization, respectively, to develop a global policy framework that "ensures a level playing field and that does not lead to competitive distortions or carbon leakage."
The Warsaw meeting should include planning for the work needed in 2014 to consider the required elements of a draft negotiating text at the Lima conference in late 2014, to make such a text available well before May 2015, it said.
The environment council also recalled the conclusions of an EU foreign affairs council meeting in June which said the climate challenge calls for "a more proactive and targeted EU climate diplomacy agenda," due to the need to "raise the profile of the climate challenge in political dialogs." FINANCE COUNCIL BACKS CARBON PRICING
Separately, the EU's economic and financial affairs council met in Luxembourg Tuesday to also adopt conclusions ahead of the Warsaw climate talks.
The council underlined that climate finance is a key element of the solution to climate change, and affirmed that the EU member states have committed to scaling up the mobilization of climate finance, as part of their share of a targeted $100 billion/year globally for developing country climate aid.
"Carbon pricing is an effective and cost-efficient tool" which could be used to cut emissions by redirecting investment, it said.
"The EU and its member states welcome and support the implementation of carbon pricing at the global level," the finance council said.
--Frank Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Jonathan Fox, email@example.com