Europe can't go it alone: A common sense approach for Durban

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Connie Hedegaard is quoted as saying

"What is the point of extending our commitments if none of the other big economies say that they are willing to follow, if not today, then at least at some time tomorrow?"

It was very heartening to hear her talking common sense when asked about the future of the Kyoto Protocol after it comes to an end in December 2012. There had been rumours that Connie and Chris Huhne would push for Europe to go it alone, which to me would be econmically damaging for Europe and won't achieve a global solution to climate change.

A global legally binding accord would in theory be the best approach, however, we have been trying to achieve this since 1992 and how far have we come? Kyoto set in motion the framework for a global deal, but the most significant outcome has been the increasingly isolated EU ETS cap and trade scheme.

It has become evident that for only Europe to have a cap and trade scheme is detrimental; it pushes up energy prices when many other countries' energy remains low, thus pushing production to the emerging economies who are booming because of the increased demand to produce the goods demanded by European consumers. This leads to a crucial point, are emissions actually going down, or are they just being moved to these less regulated, and cheaper to produce in countries?

As Connie stated, “Europe represents only 11% of global emissions. What will the other 89% do?” We need to stop thinking that other countries will follow our lead, they aren't and they won't, while the EU has such a complex and costly climate change policy landscape.

There is a need to re-evaluate the approach we take in tackling GHG emissions at the global level rather than keep hoping everyone will suddenly have a change of heart. If the talks at Durban can recognise this, then I think the talks will start to move us out of the stalemate we are currently in.

EEF will be closely following the talks at Durban and calling for a move away from a Europe-only view.

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