Europe’s climate action Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, has been dealt a poor hand.
She has the thankless task of leading the EU’s efforts to secure an international agreement on measures to fight global warming, and to encourage our own Member States to sign up to initiatives that will demonstrate Europe’s continuing leadership on the issue while meeting other goals, such as strengthening energy sufficiency and reducing our use of scarce resources.
But despite the scientific evidence of climate change having been wholly vindicated, continuing scepticism about the need for action prevails and saps political will, both here and elsewhere. The world needs the USA – the largest per capita emitter of CO2 – to sign up to far-reaching reforms, but there is not the slightest indication that they are likely to do so in the near future.
If the largest emitters of global warming gases will not make a commitment to reduce them it is hard for Europe’s politicians to argue that the EU, releasing just 13% of the total, must incur the costs of action alone.
COP16, the next conference of the parties (governments) who have signed the UN’s framework convention on climate change, meets in a few weeks’ time in Cancun, Mexico. After the disappointment of Copenhagen the expectations are low. Hedegaard set out to the European Parliament’s environment committee on Monday (4 October) a very limited set of criteria by which to measure its ‘success’.
“Cancun MUST keep the momentum,” she told MEPs. “If Cancun does not deliver substantial progress it is difficult to see where such progress will be made.”
Gamblers may recognise the need to play even a bad hand with confidence.