The EU ship- Will we avoid becoming another Titanic in December by starting to turn now?

The EU ship- Will we avoid becoming another Titanic in December by starting to turn now?

Just because Bonn is over does not mean that negotiations stop. Every time governments meet climate change remains firmly on the agenda. In fact is at these meetings outside the formal negotiations that many issues are discussed and decisions made.

Last week the EU heads of state met in Brussels. Following on from Bonn their talk around climate change had a heavy focus on emissions targets and climate finance.

So what did we see come out of these talks?

Well actually the question should probably be what did we not see?

And the answer, one simple word… AMBITION!

We did have reiteration of the commitment to keeping global warming below 2 degrees. But then we also had reiteration of their commitments to 20-30% emissions cuts by 2020.

How can they not see these things do not go hand in hand? How can they call giving us a 50% chance of staying below 2 degrees a ‘commitment’?

20-30% by 2020 is not an ambitious target– whatever the EU may think. Just because others are pledging less, does not make a target that fails to safeguard our future ambitious!

The ministers also continued to dance around finance, with the outcome that still we have no money on the table! There was lots of talk of ‘ the scale needed’, but no mention of what this scale actually is. Worryingly they also made no mention of making sure that any finance mechanisms put in place are predictable. We need finance mechanisms that ensure the money flows automatically (such as the Norwegian proposal), not ones that rely on governments handing each bit over. The way things are going we could be left with empty, unfulfilled promises on climate finance much as we have seen on aid (only five countries have fulfilled their promise of 0.7% made 35 years ago- the UK is not one of them).

Where is the ambition in talking about finance without mentioning actual money? Where is the ambition in heading towards more empty promises?

The EU claims to be a leader in the climate negotiations, unfortunately it is perfectly possible for a leader to lead without ambition, in fact many leaders do.

But the greatest leaders have always had ambition.

If the EU wants to be remembered as a great leader in these negotiations now is the time to show some ambition!

The EU is like a huge ship, it takes a long time to stop and a long time to change direction. But all it takes is a minor adjustment of the rudder and the whole ship starts to turn. We desperately need someone within the EU to step forward, grab the ships wheel and start the turn that will take us all with them, who is willing to do this?

We have called for it to be the UK, and we will continue to over the next six months. But there is also someone else waiting in the cabin, someone who is actually the best placed to turn the wheel.

That country is Sweden. On the 1st of July they will take over the presidency of the EU and hold it for the next six months (this means they will also be the ones to speak for the EU at Copenhagen). They will be the ones holding the wheel, the captain of this ship for want of a better word.

In the past Sweden have been great on environmental policy and they are also one of the five countries who have actually reached the 0.7% target. But at the minute it is looking worryingly like they might take over the wheel and just hold it tight to make sure we keep going straight. There is concern that, instead of leading the EU, Sweden will just sit back and facilitate.

Now is the time to call on Sweden to be more ambitious than that. We need to call on them to take control and steer the boat. All it takes is a gentle and small turn of the wheel and the whole boat will start to change direction. Sweden must not be neutral, neutral equals nothing! Sweden must grab the wheel and steer this unwieldy EU ship to a better course.

The captains that are remembered in history are those that lead their ships courageously in times of stormy waters. Sweden has the opportunity to be this kind of leader, the only question now is, will they take it?

Please over the next couple of weeks take a moment to check up on our Swedish trackers blogs at as they are the ones who may well call for action around this issue, though I will of course try to keep you updated.