Though happy with the US Congress's active stance in the US climate change debate, a delegation of the European Parliament's Committee on Climate Change leaves Washington concerned about America's capacity to meet the Bali timetable and contribute to a global climate change agreement by 2009. On Wednesday 30 April, at the conclusion of their visit, Committee Chairman Guido Sacconi (PES, IT) and EP climate change rapporteur Karl Heinz Florenz (EPP-ED, DE) made the following joint statement on behalf of the EP delegation:
“We are happy to see that Congress is discussing draft legislation on climate change and urge our US partners to persist in their effort to establish a carbon trade system – one that, in the near future, could be linked with the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS).
We have reason to insist, however, that work on climate change policy in Washington should be synchronised with efforts to reach a climate change agreement at the international level. That said, we urge the US to do its utmost to wrap up work on its domestic climate legislation by the December 2009 UN summit in Copenhagen.
It would be a major disappointment if the US brings nothing to the table in Copenhagen. To put it in simple terms: countries, both developed and developing, will not sign up to an ambitious agreement without the US on board. Think: what kind of leverage would Europe and America have over countries like China if we failed to speak with a single voice?
We cannot ignore the science. It tells us that, in order to forestall irreversible changes to our climate, emissions will have to peak around 2015. That said, every year matters – and any delay in securing a global climate change agreement presents a considerable risk to the welfare of our planet. It is the Earth that is setting our deadlines, not Europe's or America's election schedule.
We acknowledge that we cannot expect much movement on climate change from the current White House. However, considering the hope that we place in all three US presidential candidates, we expect the next US administration to make climate change a priority – and to begin drafting the relevant domestic legislation – from day one. We urge the next US president to do everything in his or her power to overcome every domestic obstacle standing in the way of an international agreement in Copenhagen.
In the meantime, the EP and the US Congress need to bridge the gap that exists in our appreciation of the international backdrop against which our domestic climate policies take shape. Though our meetings on the Hill this week are certainly a good start, we need to make far greater, more sustained efforts to coordinate our approaches – this, bearing in mind that where the legislative branch leads (by sending clear policy signals), the executive should follow. If we were to find ourselves on opposite ends of the climate change debate – that would mean disaster.”
Over the course of three days, members of the delegation met with key members of Congress (among them Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Joe Lieberman, Rep. Ed Markey), NGO representatives, U.S. administration and World Bank officials.
Members in the delegation:
Guido Sacconi (PES, IT), Committee Chairman and EP rapporteur on CO2 emissions from passenger cars
Rebecca Harms (Greens/EFA, DE), Committee Vice-Chairman
Inés Ayala Sender (PSE, ES)
Bairbre de Brún (GUE/NGL, UK)
Pilar del Castillo Vera (EPP-ED, ES)
Avril Doyle (EPP-ED, IE), EP rapporteur on the EU Emission Trading Scheme
Jonathan Evans (EPP-ED, UK), Chairman of the EP-US Delegation
Karl-Heinz Florenz (EPP-ED, DE), EP rapporteur on climate change
Matthias Groote (PSE, DE)
Peter Liese (EPP-ED, DE), EP rapporteur on including aviation in the ETS
Piotr ZALEWSKI, Press service, E-mail address : email@example.com, Telephone number in Brussels : (32-2) 28 32232 (BXL), Mobile number : (32) 498 98 32 57
Temporary Committee on Climate Change website