European Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas welcomed the Council conclusions on the EU position for the COP 15 conference to be held in Copenhagen this December. The Conclusions advance the EU position, which will now be finalised by the European Council at the end of October. Discussions focused on the scale of the long-term (2050) emission reduction objective for the EU, targets to be set for reducing emissions from international aviation and maritime transport, accounting rules for changes in emissions due to land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), and how to tackle a potential surplus of assigned amount units from the Kyoto Protocol's 2008-2012 commitment period.
Debates were also held on three issues: ship dismantling, the eco-efficient economy, and the proposed recast of two Directives, the Directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), and the Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS).
Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "I am pleased with the progress we have made today, as there is only one negotiating session left before Copenhagen, and it is imperative to step up the speed of exchanges at the political level. Reaching an international agreement is a formidable political challenge, but we are still on the right track. And I repeat that it is more important than ever for the EU to assert its leadership role: our citizens want it, and so do our partners in the rest of the world."
The conclusions agreed in October covered a number of outstanding issues.
On the scale of the long-term (2050) emission reduction objective for the EU, the Council agreed on the need to set a long-term target at EU level as such targets have already been accepted in other international fora (G8, MEF). Ministers therefore supported a target of 80-95 per cent by 2050. Ministers also discussed the level of the global targets for the aviation and maritime sectors to be set under the UNFCCC in the Copenhagen agreement. The Council agreed on pursuing global reduction targets for aviation at -10 per cent and -20 per cent for the maritime sector as compared to 2005.
Regarding accounting rules for changes in emissions due to land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) the Commission is pleased to see that the Council could agree on mandatory accounting rules already ahead of the last negotiation session in Barcelona at beginning of November.
On the crucial issue of tackling a potential surplus of assigned amount units (so-called AAUs) from the Kyoto Protocol's 2008-2012 commitment period, Member States decided to recognize their implication on the environmental integrity and stressed that further discussions will be needed on possible options to address it.. These Council conclusions will now feed into the European Council to be held in Brussels on 29 and 30 October.
On the eco-efficient economy, Commissioner Dimas welcomed conclusions that confirm the strong support from Member States to shift to an eco-efficient economy, and their desire to integrate it as a key objective in the new Lisbon Strategy. The Commissioner also welcomed the conclusions on ship dismantling, which could, if appropriate, lead to a legislative proposal to ensure that ships with a strong link to the EU in terms of flag or ownership are dismantled only in safe and environmentally sound facilities worldwide On the proposed recast of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive and the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, Commissioner Dimas underlined that linked scopes would be best in view of the Directives' environmental objectives. He said that it would be problematic to support a drastic extension of the scope of the RoHS Directive without having assessed its various impacts, for example on the safety and reliability of electronic equipment.