On 9 March European Environmental Ministers adopted their conclusions for the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), to be held in June this year. Participants re-iterated the EU’s commitment to play an active role in the conference and expressed their willingness to support the introduction of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are to complement the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The meeting also saw controversial discussions on further carbon emissions cuts, with Poland resisting agreement on a draft proposal relating to a recently published roadmap for a low-carbon economy.
In their conclusion, entitled “Rio+20: Pathways to a Sustainable Future”, Environmental Ministers emphasised the need for the adoption of a green economy roadmap with internationally binding timetables for the goals and objectives agreed at the conference and re-iterated the importance to put poverty eradication at the centre of discussions.
During the meeting, participants furthermore expressed their willingness to support the introduction of SDGs as complementary targets to the MDGs. “Any such goals should fully encompass all three dimensions of sustainable development in a balanced and synergistic way; be universal, while taking into account the need to apply different approaches in different countries in the efforts to achieve them; be limited in number; be linked to possible concrete targets and indicators and easily communicable”, the document reads.
The document further draws on the challenges posed by climate change, pointing to the need for Rio+20 to “build and promote potential synergies” between climate change and sustainable development, including the promotion of a low-carbon economy.
In a communication published in 2011, entitled “A roadmap for moving to a competitive a low-carbon economy in 2050”, the EC sets out to reduce green-house gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and by 80% by 2015, as compared to 1990. Poland however refused to approve such plans, calling on the EU to wait for other countries to take similar measures.
“I'm sorry that Poland couldn't join the rest of the EU today in backing strong action on the low carbon economy”, said UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey after the meeting. “There's been a clear call today from 26 countries for the Commission to come forward with policy proposals to help deliver the low carbon economy and I encourage them to do that as soon as possible”, he concluded.
Read the outcome document here: Council of the European Union (pdf)