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EU Council Adopts Conclusions on Rio+20 and Durban Climate Conference

9 March 2012: The first Environment Council under the Danish Presidency concluded with the adoption of conclusions on follow-up to the Durban Climate Change Conference, and on the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20). Other items debated included "A Roadmap to a low-carbon economy in 2050" and the Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE).

The Environment Council took place on 9 March 2012, in Brussels, Belgium. On the draft conclusions (6837/12) on a roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050, one member State could not accept the provisions regarding the milestones contained in the draft, namely for domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions of 40% by 2030, 60% by 2040 and 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. The EU Presidency will reconsider the draft and report to the European Council.

The Conclusions on climate change provide an assessment of the outcome of the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which took place at the end of 2011. The debate focused on issues related to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Participants agreed that an unlimited carry-over of surplus Assigned Amount Units (AAUs) after 2012 could jeopardize the environmental integrity of the Protocol and that this issue must be solved in a non discriminatory manner.

The Conclusions on Rio+20 aim at complementing the general guidelines of the EU position at the Conference to take into account developments that have taken place since the last Council conclusions on this subject (15388/11), adopted in October 2011. The Council gave new guidance to the negotiations, sending a strong political message that reiterates the commitment of the EU and its Member States to the Rio+20 Conference and its preparatory process. The Conclusions welcome the zero draft of the outcome document “The Future We Want” as a “good basis” for negotiations. The Council also calls for strengthened international environmental governance, through the upgrading of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) into a specialized UN agency for the environment. It further welcomes proposals tabled on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and considers that the SDGs could complement the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The Council also held an orientation debate on the proposal for a regulation on the establishment of LIFE for the period 2014-2020 (18627/12), which aims to increase the efficiency of the current LIFE + Programme in order to adapt it to the new challenges and to the achievement of Europe 2020 objectives and targets. [EU Press Release] [EU Council Conclusions on Rio+20] [EU Council Conclusions on Follow-up to the Durban Climate Conference]