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Environment Council

Volume 473: debated on Thursday 13 March 2008

I represented the UK at the Environment Council in Brussels on 3 March 2008.

At this Council, member states set out their positions on the 2020 climate and energy package. The UK intervened to welcome the ambition of the proposals in meeting the EU’s targets for a 30 per cent. reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as part of an international climate agreement, or a unilateral 20 per cent. reduction. The UK highlighted the need for aggregate member state whole economy figures to be presented as a clear signal to those international negotiations of the effort required by each member state. The EU should continue to play a leading role in combating climate change.

The UK signalled that we will do our fair share of the emission reductions under the greenhouse gas effort sharing proposal, but these targets should be met cost-effectively. The UK also welcomed the Commission’s proposal for the level of a central EU ETS cap with a clear downwards emissions reduction trajectory and the Commission’s proposals on carbon capture and storage (CCS), including the demonstration projects. The UK did however state our opposition to hypothecation of auctioning revenues and the reallocation of auctioning rights. Finally, the UK and many others emphasised the importance of coherent sustainability criteria for biofuels. Member states also set out their positions on the Commission’s proposal for a regulation to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars. The UK welcomed the proposal, called for the addition of challenging long-term targets and stressed the need for provisions to protect independent niche and small-volume manufacturers.

Ministers adopted Council conclusions as input to the spring European Council on 13 to 14 March. The conclusions form the basis of EU leaders’ response to legislative proposals to achieve Europe’s climate and energy objectives for 2020. It also covers issues including halting biodiversity loss, environmental technologies, sustainable consumption and production, and better regulation. The Council also adopted Council conclusions establishing the EU priorities and negotiating position ahead of the fourth COP serving as the meeting of the parties to the Cartagena protocol on biosafety and the ninth conference of parties to the convention of biological diversity both to be held in May 2008 in Bonn, Germany.

Under “Any Other Business”, the presidency provided information on emissions from heavy duty vehicles (Euro VI). At the request of delegations, additional AOB items include noise from military aircraft, shipping emissions (on which the UK intervened), management of GMOs and Ukraine’s final decision regarding the Danube-Black sea deep navigational canal.