EU calls for global carbon trading system to fight climate change

The European Union is calling on developed countries — particularly the United States — to sign on to a global system for trading carbon credits to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Suggestions outlined in EU blueprint for Copenhagen deal

The European Union is calling on developed countries — particularly the United States — to sign on to a global system for trading carbon credits to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The European Commission, which creates legislation for EU, said in a report released Wednesday it wants the United States and other industrialized countries to develop a joint carbon-trading scheme by 2015.

The EU hopes the report will be a benchmark for minting a climate change deal at international talks in Copenhagen later this year. The deal would replace 1997's Kyoto protocol, a climate change pact that the United States has not ratified.

"As a first step, the commission aims to set up an EU-U.S. working group to share experience on designing domestic emissions trading systems," the commission says on its website.

If there is enough support for that plan, the EU hopes to expand the system to include developing countries, as well as emerging juggernauts India and China, by 2020.

That plea for a global carbon market goes out to all Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, including Canada.

Canada looks for North American system

Canada doesn't have a national carbon "cap-and-trade" system. But after the election of U.S. President Barack Obama, the Harper administration has signalled it will work with the new U.S. government to develop a North America-wide system.

Some Canadian provinces have begun work on a shared carbon market.

In July, Ontario joined the Western Climate Initiative, a market-based cap-and-trade emissions program that already included Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia and seven states in the U.S.

The EU has agreed to cut its emissions by 20 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020. The commission's report goes further, calling for developed countries as a group to cut their greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 on average.

But Canada's Conservative government favours a domestic emissions cut of 20 per cent below 2006 levels by 2020. Obama has established a similar goal of reducing greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020.

Aid for developing countries urged

Billions of dollars in aid from industrialized countries is required to make it easier for developing countries to join a potential Copenhagen deal, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said.

Dimas told reporters Wednesday that financing would be vital for getting global agreement in Copenhagen, citing the difficulty developing countries will have in meeting climate change commitments.

The commission's report didn't provide a precise number for these commitments, saying instead that developing countries should limit increases in emissions to between 15 and 30 per cent — compared with business as usual — by 2020.

But it said these countries must also make plans to reduce their emissions.

The EU's executive office also backed away from setting a specific sum that richer countries, including the 27-country European bloc, should hand over to poorer members to help them implement cuts in carbon dioxide emissions and invest in wind, solar or hydroelectric power.

Earlier drafts of the EU plan had recommended wealthy and industrialized countries "commit to 30 billion euros [$48 billion] in new annual public funding by 2020."

With files from the Associated Press