The August round of climate talks in Bonn made little progress on the critical issues of financing and intermediate targets, but a deal on a new climate agreement by the year's end is still on the cards, Sweden's climate negotiator Anders Turesson told EurActiv as he shared his impressions on the state of the international climate negotiations in an interview.
The international climate talks have so far made little progress on financing and intermediate targets to cut emissions. Do you think the Bonn talks made any headway in this respect?
No, I think you cannot say so. In fact, there were very few substantive discussions on these topics.
Progress was of course made, in that New Zealand informed us about its targets. It was also important that there was deliberation on how to translate targets into commitments in commitment periods, which is partly a different thing.
Is the EU going to put money on the table to fund mitigation and adaptation in developing countries? If yes, when?
I can only speculate here and that's my problem. I think the EU has a part-formed position on financial issues and it is developing its position. I don't know to what extent the EU is going to put money on the table and when, to be frank. I don't think I have an answer for you there.
What I can say is that there is a schedule for the Swedish Presidency, which reaches its climax at the end of October when Council conclusions are going to be agreed, first in Ecofin on October 20 and thereafter in the Environment Council on 21 and then the European Council on 29th of October.
The financial issues will very much be there. But there is also a process going on for preparing the EU before the G20 in September and that may harvest something as well, it's possible.
Do you think that an agreement on a new treaty is still possible in Copenhagen?
Yes. It is definitely possible but it is difficult.
How is Sweden going to use its EU Presidency to push for an ambitious agreement in Copenhagen?
What we can do is to prepare the Union first of all. It is of pivotal importance of course that the Union has got its act together, that we have our positions, that we are ready to enhance our own commitment to go from the unilateral pledge of 20% to 30% in case we have a good agreement. That is something that we need of course in the Union to prepare for.
Second, we are going to engage in the negotiations and we have to use the means available to reach out to other parties.
There will be a multitude of meetings during this autumn and we are going to try to use them as best as possible, basically to explain the EU's ideas and visions and try to convince others. That's the best you can do through interacting with others.
Do you see any converging of the positions of developed and developing countries, as there has been little consensus on crucial issues such financing?
And also the fundamental issue of who should do what, to what extent also the developing countries should engage and particularly how their engagement should be codified in an international agreement.
That is a big topic of course, and connected to this we have the financial issue. But also other issues, technology, adaptation, to mention two important areas.
What will have to happen in Copenhagen for the EU to upgrade its 2020 target to 30%?
We need a good agreement and we need comparable efforts from other countries. Now I'm only quoting our Council conclusions: from developed countries comparable commitments and from developing countries adequate commitments.
Then of course we need to define these concepts and we need to prepare a decision technically, we need to be able to assess what other countries do in order to judge whether their efforts are indeed comparable or adequate.
And at the end of the day we need of course a political process and a political decision.
How realistic do you think an OECD carbon market is by 2015?
The EU believes it is realistic. The whole thing will depend on whether the trading systems that are now developed are compatible with each other. That remains to be seen.
The US is contemplating border taxes to retain the competitiveness of domestic industry against Chinese imports without a carbon price. Do you foresee difficult debates concerning protectionism in Copenhagen?
Yes, one could expect discussions. There are within the Union also different views on this. But I do not want to speculate where these discussions will lead.
Sweden promotes the idea of a carbon tax to get emission cuts outside of the trading sectors. Do you think there's a potential of finding consensus on this among the EU countries?
That would obviously be difficult. I don't think there is a strong push for this.
There is a need for a price on carbon emissions and that price will now be established on the market. So I guess that is the path we have turned into.
But we know from our own experience that a carbon tax is an efficient instrument. But at EU level at this stage, we have the price established on the market which we have now created.