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Stavros Dimas outlines EU hopes for Bali

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Stavros Dimas outlines EU hopes for Bali

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Stavros Dimas is the European Commissioner in charge of environmental issues. As a Greek he says that he deeply believes in the use of renewable energies, especially the sun, to counter the rising global temperature caused by climate change.

He is representing the European Union in the Bali conference on global warming that started on December 3rd. His challenge will be to persuade major polluters, such as the US and the big emerging economies, to rally to the EU’s anti-CO2 emissions schemes.

Commissioner Dimas is also trying to limit the influence of genetically modified organisms in European agriculture.

Sergio Cantone, Brussels Correspondent, EuroNews:

“Commissioner, welcome to EuroNews. When the Bali conference opens, what is at stake? Do you think that the European Union will succeed in creating this sort of coalition of the willing in tackling climate change?”

Stavros Dimas, EU Environment Commissioner:

“We need a consensus in order to go ahead with an international agreement for the post 2012 period, which will be effective in reducing emissions and preventing global warming exceeding the two degrees Celsius increase that science tells us is the maximum that we should reach.”

EuroNews:
“Yes, but this is an idea of the European Union, which apparently is quite isolated7;”

SD:
“In Bali we can first of all agree to start negotiations, agree on the negotiating process and certain elements that a future agreement should contain. And by the end of 2009, we should have an agreement in place in order to fight climate change in an effective way.”

EuroNews:
“Do you think that, politically speaking, in order to achieve the goals that you have mentioned it is important for all these countries, as well as the EU, to openly declare Kyoto5;s death?

SD:
“We see right now in the USA, Congress and various states are introducing cap and trade systems which are what Kyoto is telling us is the most cost-efficient way to fight climate change. So we are going to have Kyoto perhaps under another name, but the basic structure of Kyoto will remain and how we manage to bring on board other nations, especially the developing countries, is a task that we have not only in Bali, but in the coming months and years.”

EuroNews:
“Last winter you had a sort of misunderstanding, let5;s call it this, with one of your colleagues, Commissioner Verheugen, on car emissions. Don5;t you think that this is a contradictory message sent by the European commission?”

SD:
“No, no7; I think that vice-president Verheugen, and myself, have both agreed along with the other 25 commissioners on our climate change and car strategy, which is to reduce emissions from cars, and motor vehicle technology, to 130 grams, and minus 10 grams achieved by other means, for example car’s air-conditioning or use of bio-fuels, so we shall reach the 120 grams per kilometre objective.”

EuroNews:
“Do you really think that renewables can be developed without nuclear energy?”

SD:
“ On renewables, I not only believe, I am sure that they are going to be developed, and they are going to play a great role in fighting climate change and also to guide our industries in the European Union. Nuclear energy is something that for the European Commission is7; we are neutral I would say, we do not take sides, because there are certain member states which are relying a lot on nuclear energy, like France for example. 80 per cent of its electricity comes from nuclear power. Some countries like Finland and some other countries are introducing nuclear energy, and some others are phasing it out”.

EuroNews:
“There is a sort of, say, row, or polemic around two particular GMO maize crops. One is bt 11 while the other is 1507. You have a particular position, while other commissioners have a different one. The commission has apparently split on this issue. Could you tell us something more about it?”

SD:
“We have a tradition in the Barroso commission to decide by consensus, so I5;m sure that we shall find the right answer. We shall reach the right decision on this issue. We do not know the long-term effects of the cultivation of these two maize varieties.”

EuroNews:
“But apparently the authority, the European agency for food safety, didn5;t give an opinion that was against these two maize types. Is it true?”

SD:
“Regarding health you are right. Regarding long-term effects we have certain other studies which indicate that there could be problems, so we have to be very careful, because if you have contamination from GMOs, then it will be very difficult to return to the previous situation.
So there are differences of opinion and this creates certain problems, because in certain countries public opinion is very strongly against GMOs. But, still, what we have to see is what science tells us, and all our decisions should be science based.”

EuroNews:
“Thank you, Commissioner.”
SD:
“Thank you very much.”