Europe misses chance to agree ambitious action agenda for next climate negotiations

18 October 2005

EU Environment Council confronted with European demands to do more on climate change

LUXEMBOURG/BRUSSELS, 18 OCTOBER 2005 -- As EU Environment Ministers agreed the EU's position towards the next UN climate negotiations taking place next month in Montreal, Canada, Friends of the Earth Europe warns that by yesterday's agreement the EU is endangering international leadership previously demonstrated by the EU on climate change.

Jan Kowalzig, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "We had hoped for a much better outcome of today's meeting, given that warnings about the terrible impacts of climate change are growing louder every day. The ministers had grand words to illustrate the current climate crisis and the urgency to act, but failed to turn it into an ambitious action agenda for the global climate talks in Montreal."

"The European Union cannot afford to give up its leadership role, if it aims to limit the economic, environmental and human costs of global climate change. Europe should make clear in Montreal, that a new phase of commitments must be negotiated until 2007 or 2008 latest and result in deeper, absolute and mandatory emission cuts by industrialised

Friends of the Earth Europe in particular criticises that ministers failed to agree a date by which the EU would aim to finalise international negotiations, given the urgency of the issue and the time needed for implementation on the domestic level. Also, from an earlier draft, a text on mid- and long-term targets for emission reductions by industrialised countries has been deleted and replaced by a mere reference to earlier agreements. On the positive side, Friends of the Earth welcomed the reiteration of the EU's target to keep the global average temperature increase below 2°C [1].

When Ministers arrived for their meeting, they were welcomed by a 100m long wall of "climate messages", painted by thousands of citizens across Europe, demanding that the EU must take the climate crisis much more seriously. UK Environment Minister Elliot Morley received a stack of such painted climate messages, one for each EU Environment
Minister. [2]

Jan Kowalzig continued: "These messages leave no doubt that Europeans demand more action from their leaders, both at the UN climate talks and on the domestic level, but European countries fail to even meet the meagre targets under the Kyoto Protocol."

"Countries fear that real action to reduce emissions would harm the economy. These fears ignore the huge economic and financial impacts that climate change will have on Europe. And they also ignore the economic potential through triggering innovation as well as competitive advantages in a world that will increasingly need cleaner energy."


[1] The text of the council conclusion is available at

[2] Thousands of painted climate messages, coming from 30 European countries, have been collected over the past months. The installation today marked the end of the European dimension of the campaign; now the messages will be sent to Montreal, where a giant installation will be set up just outside the UN climate negotiations. 

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