BRUSSELS, Belgium — The failure to agree on legally binding limits for greenhouse gas emissions at the Copenhagen summit has forced Europe to shift its approach to climate change diplomacy, the European Union president said Friday.
President Herman Van Rompuy said the EU's 27 governments now believe they need to press other parts of the world to tackle climate change "step by step" -- which means they would temporarily cool a big push for other regions to sign a pact curbing global warming.
"Since Copenhagen, we need to approach this on a step-by-step basis," Van Rompuy said. "We're going to try and develop a new negotiating dynamic."
The EU's climate change commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, said she would lay the groundwork for the EU to increase its target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. She said she will identify what the EU would need to do to make the bigger cut, and how that might help promote jobs and economic growth.
The EU is currently promising a 20 per cent cut while saying it will deepen that to 30 per cent once other nations make big cuts. Environmentalists say the EU should toughen its goal because the current target will be easy to reach, as the recession reduces demand for power from polluting electricity stations and factories.
European leaders had lobbied hard for a deal and were embarrassed when they failed to convince others, particularly China, to set targets that would help keep global warming under a 2 degree Celsius increase.
EU governments said in a statement Friday the union would "strengthen its outreach" to other countries "by addressing climate change at all regional and bilateral meetings" and at major international gatherings such as the Group of 20 major world economies.
The nations supported extra talks "in other settings and on specific issues" that could boost slow efforts to reach an agreement at UN climate change negotiations -- apparent support for UN climate envoy Gro Harlem Brundtland's call for a double track of talks.
The statement said they also expect "concrete decisions" from another round of climate discussions in Cancun, Mexico in November and December this year.
The EU also promised to speed up paying out some US$3.2 billion a year they have committed to developing countries between 2010 and 2012 for programs to adapt and combat climate change.
But they warned that Europe's contribution to some $100 billion a year from rich nations to help developing nations fight global warming had to be linked to "meaningful and transparent actions" by poorer countries to cut carbon dioxide emissions.