EU summit misses opportunity to boost global climate talks

Belgian police release Greenpeace activists

Press release - December 11, 2009
Just as Greenpeace activists were being released by Belgian police following a daring action at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, European governments admitted that they have failed to increase their emission reduction target to an unconditional 30% cut by 2020 (based on 1990 levels). Also at the summit, EU leaders agreed on short-term financing for climate action in developing countries of €2.4 billion a year, to be delivered by EU member states over the next three years.

"While more and more countries announce new climate action in Copenhagen, the EU stood still today, refusing to put anything more ambitious on the table. The EU is acting like Copenhagen is a trade negotiation, when in fact it is about the future of our planet," said Joris den Blanken, Greenpeace EU climate policy director. "The 'wait and see' attitude of Barroso and some EU member states are responsible for this paralysis."

Greenpeace activists, who were arrested following a peaceful action at the EU summit on Thursday, are being released by Belgian police. Eleven activists evaded tight security to deliver a message to EU governments from the red carpet used by European presidents and prime ministers. The activists, dressed in suits and ties, unfurled three banners reading: 'EU: save Copenhagen.' Travelling in a special Greenpeace motorcade, the activists entered EU summit grounds amid official government delegations, a few minutes after Czech prime minister Jan Fischer and just ahead of British prime minister Gordon Brown.

"Since the Kyoto agreement in 1997, the EU has consistently raised ambitions in climate negotiations, with other countries eventually following suit. Halfway through the most important climate talks to date is not the time for the EU to suddenly change this winning strategy," said den Blanken.

Short-term finance

Following the EU summit's concluding press conference where EU President Fredrik Reinfeldt announced short-term finance for climate action in developing countries over the next three years, Greenpeace EU climate policy director Joris den Blanken said: "Short-term money for developing countries is necessary, but EU leaders are avoiding the really crucial issues of longer term financing and the emissions target. Climate change will not end in three years, carbon emissions from poorer countries will not end in three years, deforestation in those countries will not end in 3 years, so neither should the flow of cash."