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The EU environmental NGO Statement on CSD 15

WECF provides input on countries in transition on energy poverty, nuclear risk and climate change

01.03.2007 |Sabine Bock

At a meeting organised by ANPED in Brussels, WECF and other European Environmental NGO prepared their statement on energy and climate change for the upcomming session of the United National Committee for Sustainable Development (CSD), 15th Session.

European NGO Input CSD 15


As a group of European NGOs[1], we welcome and fully endorse the NGO Major Group policy statement for CSD 15: “A New Paradigm” (E/CN.17/2007/7). However in addition to the statement we want to highlight the following from a European perspective.

Within the context of the precautionary principle (Rio P15[2]) - promoting sustainable development safeguarding the environment and promoting social equity - Europe has a special responsibility over the issue of energy, industrial development, air pollution and climate change. Considered on a regional basis, European nations are amongst the wealthiest countries in the world, and yet also amongst those with the highest CO2 emission levels. Europe therefore has all the necessary resources available to it in order to play a key role in developing and implementing solutions to the problems under consideration during this particular CSD biennium. It is therefore necessary that European leaders show the necessary political determination to step up to the plate and start to assume Europe's obligations under the "common but differentiated responsibilities" framework for global sustainable development.

During CSD 14 delegations from European countries and the EU stated the following (UN CSD 14 Report[3]):

“200. Though the countries in the region are very diverse, they all share a concern for energy security, which depends on the stability of supply, demand and pricing. In particular, the sustainable growth of industry depends on reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy supplies. Energy security and environmental security are closely linked. It was pointed out that energy security could be improved by increasing the share of renewable energy sources in the region. While access to energy is not a major problem in the region, energy poverty does exist.


201. In the fight against air pollution, delegations called for an integrated approach that builds on current progress and strengths and integrates energy efficiency, air pollution control and greenhouse gas emission reductions. The importance of regional cooperation, education, capacity building and increased participation of women and youth in energy planning and addressing environmental issues was stressed.”

The EU has a unique role in global environmental policy work. We note the recent moves to show leadership and develop a common position (IP/07/29). This is a welcome first step but we must go much further. Many Europeans have unsustainable lifestyles and there are substantial inequalities throughout the region (and with the rest of the world) in terms of consumption and levels of CO2 emissions.

The recently proposed EU Energy Action Plan contains some signs that the EU is preparing to back its rhetoric on leadership with some real degree of ambition to deliver provable results on the ground. Nevertheless, even this somewhat limited proposed action needs to be simultaneously strengthened, enlarged and quickly converted into binding energy and climate policy targets for the EU and its member States - if the EU wishes to be adequately claiming leadership on these issues.

Climate change

We recognise the traditional importance of the historic links between CSD and the work of the UN's principal response to the problem of tackling global climate change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). UNFCCC, together with its implementation framework the Kyoto Protocol is, and should remain, the principle focus of the UN's response to the challenge of climate change.

A global agreement for a much more ambitious second phase of the Kyoto Protocol ensures progress towards preventing dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, and the development of a sustainable global carbon-neutral society.

To this end CSD 15 should:

  • Strongly support the current work being performed within the UNFCCC framework in order to strengthen the Kyoto Protocol and to ensure early and overall agreement on the continuity between the Protocol's first Commitment Period and a second Commitment Period commencing on January 1st 2013.
  • Support negotiations on an agreement for an adequate second Commitment period containing much more ambitious targets for all Parties contained in Annex-1 of UNFCCC, and particularly for European countries aiming to demonstrate leadership in the fight against climate change.
  • Support essential architectural continuity between first and second commitment periods of the Kyoto Protocol, as well as associated investor and institutional confidence, by calling for a mandated and intensive 2-year programme of UNFCCC negotiations, to commence at UNFCCC COP13/COP-MOP3 in 2007 at the latest.
  • Support an end date for the completion of negotiations before the end of 2009 on a legally-binding framework for a second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol in order to provide adequate time for ratification by member States and entry into force before the end of December 31st 2012
  • Support negotiations for stronger and more adequate adaptation, technology transfer and capacity building frameworks, together with adequate and predictable resource and financing
  • Remind Annex-1 Parties to UNFCCC that are not currently Parties to the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol that they nevertheless have current legally-binding obligations under UNFCCC.
  • Support a serious ambition to limit the dangerous impacts of climate change, requiring all parties to UNFCCC to co-operate to ensure that the rise in global average surface temperature is slowed, stopped and finally reversed, peaking well below an increase of 2 degrees Centigrade over pre-industrial levels, and that temperatures are brought down as rapidly as possible thereafter.

The EU has recently committed to a unilateral cut in its emissions of greenhouse gases to a level of 20% below 1990 emissions by 2020, and has signaled its intention to raise this ambition to a cut of -30% of 1990 emissions if part of an overall global agreement to reduce emissions.The EU should be prepared to make an unconditional offer of a greenhouse gas reduction target for the EU as a whole of at least 30% by 2020. This short-term ambition should be supported by, and be supportive of, a longer-term ambition for the EU to reduce its emissions by at least 70% by 2050.

A rapid shift, particularly by all industrialized and major industrializing nations, to clean renewable, sustainable energy systems, closely coupled to a major energy efficiency & energy-saving revolution are essential to avoid the projected catastrophic impacts of future climate change if emissions remain unmitigated.

The EU should define their specific role in helping developing countries adapt to climate change, especially facing the big challenge when it comes to member states in coastal areas.

Actors:                         UNFCCC, EC and Member States

Time-line:             May 2007 Bonn / December 2007

Action:            IATA to include compensation for aviation emissions in international agreements; national governments to set an example and compensate aviation emissions, caused by their own travel arrangements; CSD to set a similar example for the UN.

Time-line:             2009

The modalities and procedures for activities under the Clean Development Mechanism should be reviewed and adapted to address issues of social and environmental justice, including rights to land and self-determination. A lack of market access and poor regional coordination present obstacles to ensuring climate-friendly farming practices. We welcome the recent initiative of the CDM Board[4].

Actor:             CDM Board

Timeline:              Second half 2007 / 2008


Access to basic, clean and affordable energy services is essential for sustainable development and poverty eradication and can provide major benefits in the areas of health, literacy, job creation, income generation, economic empowerment and equity.

Many poorer communities in rural areas have either limited or no access to clean energy. Furthermore, due to the gender bias of energy poverty, women bear a disproportional amount of the negative social, economic, health and environmental impacts of traditional energy sources.

For the share of renewable energy to be increased in the total energy supply and for energy efficiency to be promoted, further effort is needed on market support, through innovative financing mechanisms, increased investments, shifting subsidies from fossil to renewable energy, accelerated R&D, adequate legislation, education, awareness raising and information and data exchange.

Cities are particularly well-placed to undertake innovative measures to curb transport-related urban air pollution, such as pilot projects to promote cleaner fuel and clean public transport alternatives.

Ambitious programs to promote renewable energies are required because:

  • Maintenance of fossil fuel-based energy systems is inconsistent with the overwhelming need to rapidly tackle the problem of global warming;
  • New renewable energies[5] are the only way to give access to modern energy services to the two billion people currently excluded from them;
  • Renewable energies open up the opportunity to build decentralized energy supply systems, which are produced locally, reducing energy transport costs (as well as their associated externalities) while simultaneously providing positive social benefits in the form of more employment and education for men and women alike;
  • Given its unique position and situation the EU has a particular responsibility to build the capacity for economies in transition – also in eastern Europe - to achieve a rapid and innovative shift in the development of their energy systems away from dependence on mainly fossil (and nuclear) fuels and towards sustainable solutions;
  • Renewable energy systems are far less prone to corruption and crises than the fossil energy system;
  • Nuclear energy is NOT sustainable.

Actors:                         EC, Energy facility and EIB in close cooperation with NGOs

Action:                        To develop new proposals

Time-line:             December 2007


Actor:             EC

Action:            To strengthen the capacity of eastern European countries when it comes to technology development and renewable energy supplies

Time-line:             2008

Financing for clean development

The many billions spent by the national and international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the regional development banks, and export credit agencies in support of energy services are still strongly biased towards the maintenance of the fossil fuelled-energy systems that are so responsible for causing climate change.

The Multilateral Development Bank’s (MDBs) are in a key position to drive policy and financing for clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency & saving in developing countries as they are a focus for large investments and drive private capital to the projects they favor.

To support a major shift in energy use and sources, it is imperative to:

  • Develop a comprehensive strategy on finance putting the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) on course of redirecting their funds to sustainable energy including the introduction of strengthened micro-financing schemes for new renewables and energy efficiency & saving;
  • Recognize and phase out Export Credit Agencies (ECA) support by 2008 for funding for fossil, nuclear and hydro that does not comply with the World Commission on Dams recommendations and instruct all IFIs to do likewise;
  • Recognize investment by national governments into new renewables and energy efficiency & saving as a contribution toward debt repayment in debt cancellation agreements for indebted countries;
  • Give more favorable conditions for loans etc. to countries in transition when choosing renewable energy systems;
  • Immediately begin the phase out of subsidies to the fossil fuel and nuclear industries[6] in order to “shift the playing field”;
  • Create an Investment Climate Facility (ICF) for Africa to help improve frameworks for domestic and foreign investment could be a positive step forward. (Chair’s Summary csd-14, Para 165);
  • Incorporate the principle of “the polluter pays” in all legislation and allocate funds, available from sanctions,to clean and invest in R&D and measures to prevent pollution
  • Develop a credit system and certification for small, local initiatives on sustainable energy use and services;
  • Promote re-investing of credits (Kyoto) in the originating developing countries e.g. for sustainable industrial development and education; Direct more carbon-abatement investment funds to small-scale rural renewable energy projects;
  • Create loan-schemes and targeted subsidies that provide solutions to high upfront costs of access to modern energy services by the poor. Financing options include micro-finance schemes, revolving funds and loans with extended payback periods. In-kind contributions should also be an option.Small-scale financing schemes encourage local entrepreneurs, including women and young people, to start businesses for provision of decentralized energy services as well as other micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs);
  • Overcome the cost barrier in order to make renewable energy technologies economically competitive can be achieved through the scaling up of their production and deployment and government investment in R&D;
  • Finance feasibility and vulnerability studies for the development of sustainable energy plans;
  • Include capacity building (including vocational education) and gender -, cultural and environmental impact assessments as part of conditions for financing.

Actors: IFIs

Time-line: 2008

Bio fuels

Although new generation Bio fuels provide opportunities for reducing CO2 emissions, unsustainable bio energy systems limit the bio energy potential available through resource depletion and land erosion; environmental and social problems that can accompany large-scale bio energy.

To balance positive and negative sides of use of bio fuels it is necessary to:

  • Initiate a consultative process for a global agreement on sustainability criteria for bio energy, having an ambition to develop a mandatory certification system, - including compressive “well to wheel” and similar cycle analysis studies - in order to ensure the overall sustainability of bio energy systems and set sustainability criteria for energy production and consumption, including the use of bio energy to avoid negative effects on food security, health, livelihood, biodiversity and the widening of the gap between the haves and have-nots;
  • Ensure knowledge transfer and education as an essential condition to ensure effective and safe usage of bio fuels.

Actors:                         UNEP (and FAO)

Time-line:             2010

Spatial planning

One of the key duties and results of spatial planning is effective carbon management.Currently inadequate spatial planning systems are contributing to continuing rises in CO2 emissions from transport.

We note cases of emerging good practice where good local spatial and operational planning is helping deliver significant CO2 cuts. We welcome activity in this field by local authorities and their associations[7].

We stress however that exemplary good practice is not enough. There need to be:

  • Clear policy guidelines to ensure that these bottom-up type II actions move from becoming occasional good practice to official standard practice. This should build on the recommendations arising from CSD 14;
  • Better land use planning, involving all stakeholders including women and local civil society (organizations) such as by locating residential, commercial, education and employment centres with a view toward energy savings and less emission (less mobility required) in urban and rural areas alike;
  • Short production and consumption supply chains developed, to avoid unnecessary transport (on a global scale);
  • Capacity building and training aimed specifically at decision makers would enable better decision- making on public transport and infrastructure projects.

Actors:                         Local governments, Commission on TDG

Action:                        re. transport systems and carbon-management

Time-line:             2008/2009

Industrial Development /

Sustainable Production and Consumption (SPAC)

All though SPAC is one of the main instruments for the developed world and especially Europe for mitigation of pollution and climate change, there is not enough attention and focus on the development and implementation of strategies and policies to bring this about.

It is apparent that SPAC is and should be a main focus of the CSD, also in view of the 2010/2011 CSD cycle when a review of progress on the development of the 10 Year Framework of Programmes (Marrakech Process) is due.

To reach less consumptive economies requires a broad-based approach as set out in the Ostend NGO Statement towards Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (EU Stakeholder Meeting 24.-26.11.2004) Key elements within such an approach are:

Ecological fiscal reform containing (i) removal of all perverse subsidies; (ii) use of eco-taxes to internalise external costs; (iii) price mechanisms to support policy integration; (iv) selective use of positive incentives; (v) new measures of progress accounting for environmental impacts within the current system of accounts.

Clean and eco-effective production supported by (i) green investment; (ii) eco-innovation; (iii) eco – design; (iv) appropriate products standards and labelling programmes; (v) increasing market access for environmental goods and services; (vi) environmentally sound public procurement rules and practices.

Education for sustainable consumption and production via (i) integrating knowledge of relevant consumption behaviour into curricula from pre-school to universities and in the concepts of life long learning; (ii) providing data for reliable information; (iii) report on indicators to shape consumption behaviour that can make a difference.

Corporate responsibility and accountability as legally binging framework (i) creating full transparency about the sustainability performance of business; (ii) dialogue between enterprises and communities; (iii) financial institutions to incorporate sustainable development considerations into their decision - making processes;

Information and public participation for sustainable consumption and production including (i) implementing the Aarhus Convention;(ii) support and financing of participation structures; (iii) develop and provide effective transparent and verifiable consumer information tools.

In relation to the current CSD cycle there is considerable scope for improving energy efficiency & saving in households, the transport sector and industry, including the energy industry, and by changing consumption and production patterns, behaviours and lifestyles. The following actions should be taken:

  • As an example, governments change their consumption and buying policies;
  • Develop short production and consumption supply chains, to avoid unnecessary transport;
  • Maximise the use of financial instruments (see above);
  • Create (proven cost-effective) mandatory performance standards, appliance and building standards and labels;
  • Stimulate education – starting at schools -and awareness-raising campaigns building on local cultural values helping to change (future) consumer behaviour toward more sustainable lifestyles and have assist people in making informed product choices;
  • Actively involve non-profit organizations to bring down unnecessary demand and assist people in making informed product choices;
  • Stimulate demand-side management programmes to improve energy and resource efficiency & saving and reduce emissions and waste;
  • Promote integrated approaches such as 3Rs concept – reduce, recycle, reuse to save resources;
  • Enhance and support the Marrakech Process on Sustainable Consumption and Production, including making it more “public” and involving all / more stakeholders;
  • Support the Task Force on Education for Sustainable Consumption, launched to provide a bridge between the Marrakech Process and the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, involve more countries, involve more stakeholders and translate into effective programs from national governments and consumer organizations with developed countries of the global North taking the lead.

Actors:            Marrakech process experts and Task Forces; consumer organizations; NGOs; UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development Task Force

Time-line:             2009/2010



[1] The following European NGOs worked together to prepare this paper: ANPED, An Taisce (Ireland), Association 4D (France), Associations 21 (Belgium), CEEWEB (Hungary), CJEF/CRIJ (Belgium), Conseil Fédéral de Développement Durable (Belgium), ECO Southwest (Bulgaria), Fact Foundation (Netherlands), FSNE (Finland), GEOTA (Portugal), Green Balkans Federation of NGOs (Bulgaria), Green Liberty (Latvia), Greenpeace, GRIAN (Ireland), P.B.C. (Czech Republic), Netherlands Youth Council (Netherlands), Netherlands Women’s Council (Netherlands), Practical Action (United Kingdom), London 21 (United Kingdom), TEMA (Turkey), VODO (Belgium), WECF (Germany).

[2] The Rio Declaration, Principle 15: In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

[3] See United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, Report on the Fourteenth Session (22 April 2005 and 1-12 May 2006), Economic and Social Council, Official Records, 2006, Supplement No. 9.

[4] Open call for public input for “proposals for methodologies for small-scale clean development mechanism project activities that propose the switch from non-renewable biomass to renewable biomass, addressing issues related to leakage, differentiation between renewable and non-renewable biomass and consistency with paragraph 7(a) of decision 17/CP.7”, to be submitted to the Secretariat between 15 January and 16 April 2007.

[5] “New renewable energies” include modern biomass, World Commission on Dams (WCD) compliant small (up to 10 MW) hydro (mechanical as well as electric), geothermal, wind, all solar, tidal, wave and other marine energy. Modern biomass includes improved use of traditional biomass such as ‘smokeless’ efficient cooking stoves, fuels that reduce danger of burns (especially for children) and indoor air pollution as well as electricity generation, heat production and liquid fuels from carbon neutral and low input, sustainable sources of biomass.

[6] These huge subsidies – in excess of US$240 billion per year – hamper the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

[7] Sustainable urban transport systems, including systems in Brazil, Santiago, Bogotá and Mexico City.

European NGO input CSD 15

Major group priorities for action in energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air pollutio/atmosphere and climate change - ANPED

Towards effective international action on sustainable development and climate change