Feb 16, 2012
In an exclusive interview to OneWorld South Asia, Artur Runge-Metzger, Director, International and Climate Strategy of the European Commission, says that the European Union will try to come to a conclusion on emission reductions, setting milestones on reductions and look at the next steps after Durban.
Artur Runge-Metzger, holds a doctoral degree in agricultural economics. He joined the European Commission in 1993 and is currently the Director, International and Climate Strategy, European Commission. He was in India recently to attend the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2012 (DSDS), organised annually in the Indian capital by The Energy and Resources Institute.
In an exclusive interview to OneWorld South Asia, Artur Runge-Metzger, says that the European Union will, under Danish presidency, try to come to a conclusion on emission reductions, setting milestones on reductions and look at the next steps after Durban.
Q: Mr Metzger, it is interesting to see so many top climate change negotiators in India. Very recently we had the French Ambassador for Climate Change Negotiations Serge Lepeltier, in Delhi as well. So what brings you to India?
A: I think it is the interest in the topic of sustainable development, as it is closely linked to climate change. Also it is a good opportunity to meet colleagues. It is always important after COP to start talking about that what are the next steps.
Q: The leadership of the European Union (EU) has changed recently, do you foresee any change in the stand of the European Union under Denmark’s leadership?
A: Denmark is leading the presidency of EU now. EU has these changing presidencies every six months. Normally that doesn’t mean that position of EU changes. The Danish presidency is very specific on climate change, so it is the topic that will be on the agenda on the first meeting of the environment ministers, which will be held on March 9, 2012. They will try to push EU agenda forward on climate change.
In Europe, we have been looking at a road map for emission reductions for a long time, and we have not yet come to a conclusion on this. This is what the Danish presidency would try to do - come to a conclusion, setting milestones on EU reductions in the coming decades. Another issue is the outcome of Durban… what are the next steps that will be taken from the EU side? (We) will need to say very clearly that we are ready to provide emission reduction objectives; this issue is still open in international negotiations.
Q: You don’t see a change in EU’s stand under new presidency?
A: EU’s position has been built over many years. It is not something that can be changed from one presidency to other. You can build and expand it in order to respond to the challenges that we will be facing in the coming year.
Q: The Durban talks ended very recently. Have you perceived or seen any change either in the position of the Indians or the EU in the last couple of months?
A: In Durban we took a very significant step forward; in terms of being very clear to the rest of the world that until 2020, we will have a second commitment period to Kyoto Protocol and, we also will have pledges, commitments, actions from other countries that are not under the Kyoto Protocol. We have also decided that the period after 2020, we foresee a different regime. We are going to negotiate this regime in the coming years and we should come to a conclusion on that issue.
Another two elements are that - we want to set up a green climate fund. There was a clear decision taken at Durban, this can now go ahead by putting up the secretariat and the board of the green climate fund. And a final point where many people outside the process start criticising the negotiation process - that in the short term you are not addressing the so called emission gaps.
Everybody knows that we need to stay at two degrees, but we are far away from this. Some might see glass half full and some might see the glass empty. In any case we will need to do something about this and this is also a part of this year’s negotiation agenda. So that is a point where we will need to find practical solutions during this year.
Q: India being a developing country has some concerns on how to approach the negotiations. Indians also aspire to have similar standards of living - like those of the Americans, or the Europeans. Is it possible for the Europeans to bring in a more sustainable approach to their life styles?
A: That is exactly the big task what we have whether, in the context of climate change negotiations, our biodiversity convention, desertification questions or anything that you can think of. We know that the population in this world will grow by 30 per cent by 2015 and the needs of these people will need to be fulfilled in a sustainable manner. We know that the resources, whether natural, mineral or energy, will decline in the coming years. We need to find ways to be more efficient.
Q: How effective can the European government be in persuading their people to adopt friendlier lifestyles?
A: We will have to do that through many pieces of legislation.