EUROPEAN Parliament members are in Moscow this week to discuss climate change with their Russian counterparts.
They are meeting members of the Russian Duma and the Federation Council of Russia as well as government and civil society representatives.
Russia is one of the countries pivotal to getting a new agreement on climate change and efforts to get governments to agree how they will reduce greenhouse gas emissions are under way in advance of the United Nations conference next year to plan post-2012.
Avril Doyle, MEP for Ireland east, who is part of the delegation, is author of the most controversial aspect of the EU’s proposals, the emissions trading system that underpins the aim to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020.
Seen as the cornerstone of the EU’s strategy for fighting climate change, her proposals won the backing of MEPs earlier this month.
However, Ms Doyle’s insistence that industry should buy and not get free permits to pollute is proving controversial with some European countries and with Russia.
Ms Doyle said: “We have been tasked with ensuring that Europe’s credibility be maintained at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009 and we need to lead by example asking the rest of the world to join us in reducing CO2 emissions with a view to achieving the ambitious 2C target”.
Many governments have been saying that because of the current economic crisis the strict rules on reducing emissions will prove too expensive.
Ms Doyle says that climate change is the single greatest challenge and that governments will resolve the major economic and financial issues in the short term.
“However, we must not be distracted in legislating now for the longer-term on this most important of issues, or history will not judge us kindly.”
The delegation has already visited Washington and Beijing ahead of next year’s crucial climate change summit.
Russia is the third largest greenhouse gas emitter after China and the US.
The parliament is writing its report on the EU’s climate change package and will have to agree on the details with member states before the end of the year.
Many countries fear that making Europe’s heavy industries pay for their emissions will force them to move to other less stringent countries.
Germany and Poland have been lobbying for a list to be drawn up of industries that should have free permits.
Russia is also making a similar case and wants much more flexibility for different countries and does not believe countries that breach limits should be punished.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved