Sarkozy cites limited progress with eastern EU climate refuseniks
AFP - Sunday, December 7
GDANSK, Poland (AFP) - - Talks between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and nine ex-Soviet nations on a new EU climate pact yielded "progress" but left key points unresolved, Sarkozy said Saturday.
"We are not yet at the end of the discussion, but we have progressed," the bloc's current chairman told a press conference after the meeting in the Baltic coastal city of Gdansk.
"Today, I am optimistic that we can get there even if there is still a way to go," he said.
Sarkozy is also president of the European Union until December 31, after which the rotating post passes over to the Czech Republic.
"We are still in the middle of negotiations, and there are balances to be found. We still have eight days, which is plenty of time to reach an agreement," he added.
France is pushing for the adoption of an ambitious energy package at a summit meeting of the European Union's 27 member states next week in Brussels.
But the bloc's newest members, led by Poland, have threatened to back out unless concessions are made to ease their transition to less carbon intensive economies.
"We are getting closer, but we still have to settle certain points," said Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who met with Sarkozy separately earlier in the day before the second meeting joined by leaders from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia.
Poland is highly dependent on CO2-belching coal-fired plants, which account for 94 percent of its electricity.
Along with other EU newcomers, Warsaw opposes the original EU plan to begin full auctioning of CO2 emission quotas for industry in 2013, arguing it would see energy prices skyrocket.
"We have obtained a framework for an exemption for a longer period," Tusk said after the meeting with Sarkozy, mentioning the date 2019 without giving any further details.
The other ex-Soviet bloc countries have said they also need longer transition periods before switching entirely to the auction system.
The EU has set a triple "20" objective for 2020: slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent compared to 1990, increasing renewable energy's share of the market to 20 percent, and improving energy efficiency by 20 percent.
Green groups said the clash did not bode well for Europe's climate pact, and could have a dampening effect on United Nations climate change talks taking place in Poznan, also in Poland.
"We are seeing the further unravelling of the EU climate-energy package, which certainly is not going to help in putting together an ambitious agreement in Poznan," said Damien Demailly, from the WWF's climate and energy programme for Europe.
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French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk meet in Gdansk. Talks between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and nine ex-Soviet nations on a new EU climate pact yielded "progress" but left key points unresolved, Sarkozy said Saturday.
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