European Union officials waltzed into a press conference in Poznan this afternoon and proclaimed, once again, that their latest climate proposal was in no danger. Environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas called failure “inconceivable.” Hours later, in Brussels, where EU leaders are gathering today and tomorrow in hopes of reaching such an agreement, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi threatened to veto any deal that harmed Italy’s interests.
The way Dimas explains it, the debate is over implementation and concessions sought by various countries and not the proposal itself, which would reduce emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 (or 30 percent, if comparable goals are agreed to in an international treaty). Regardless, Berlusconi is driving a tough bargain.
The outcome could weigh heavily on the ongoing United Nations climate talks, where the EU has historically played a leadership roll. Ministers from developing countries laid out various ideas and proposals during a high-level session at the conference this afternoon, but virtually all of them called for bold commitments from industrialized nations.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon began the day by calling for leadership in a “Green New Deal” in response to the financial crisis. “We look for that leadership from the European Union,” he said. “The decisions currently being made by European leaders in Brussels are at great consequence for the whole world.”
On a lighter note, Berlusconi’s comments earned Italy first place in the “Fossil of the Day” competition in Poznan, a daily award that environmentalists give to those who exhibit particularly bad behavior. For kicks, the second and third place awards follow:
— Australia took second place for a plenary speech that was “stunning in its substancelessness.” Environmentalists criticized the Aussies for calling for “collective actions” – and then waiting until Monday to formally announce their new climate policy.
— Canada eked out third place for ordering the UN Secretariat to tear down a photo exhibit on the tar sands in Alberta. The exhibit was set up by the youth delegation at the US Climate Action Network booth.