Ahead of the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen this December – where it is hoped that a successor to the Kyoto Protocol can be thrashed out – the Swedish presidency of the EU has held an informal conference of energy and environment ministers in the Swedish winter resort of Are.
The aim is to try and arrive in Copenhagen with one coherent European voice. The Swedes would also like to use their time in the rotating EU presidency to push the EU back onto a greener path. “Eco-efficiency” is their watchword. Swedish houses are amongst the best insulated and most energy efficient in the world and Sweden would like to see energy saving targets made binding. They point to small changes like energy saving lightbulbs and domestic equipment as examples of how houses have already been made more energy efficient. Transport was another hot topic and action is already envisagd on tyres. The European Commission also presented a report saying that the EU could provide up to 2.5 billion euros to help save tropical forests in developing countries. Reducing emissions from deforrestation is seen as a particularly high priority. The EU has already set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 – as compared to 1990 levels – and this figure could be increased to 30% at the UN Climate conference in Copenhagen this December.