/ 25 May 2009

EU chief confident climate deal will be reached

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Monday he was confident the world would sign a global deal to combat climate change in Copenhagen in December.

Barroso urged European industry to gear up for a green technology race instead of shoring up outdated, high-carbon business models.

”I am confident that the deal is going to be reached, but it will of course be a very difficult negotiation until the very last minute,” he said on the sidelines of a green business conference.

”I don’t underestimate the differences and the difficulties but I am confident that a deal is possible in Copenhagen, and I’m saying that because I am seeing progress,” he added, pointing to new United States engagement on the issue.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday hailed last week’s approval by a key congressional panel of draft US climate laws, but said these would have to go further.

The world is meant to agree in December a new climate pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol. The May 24 to 26 industry meeting of more than 500 business leaders is trying to craft a common business statement calling for long-term climate policies.

Political leaders and chief executives urged companies to focus less on avoiding carbon-cutting rules, which may crimp growth, and cash in on producing ”green” consumer items, from electric cars to soaps that wash clothes in cold water.

”I am telling business leaders what they have to gain if they keep first-mover advantage,” Barroso said. ”In some areas we are leading the world, for example renewable energy technology, in this country, Denmark, and others.

”Our partners around the world are [also] preparing very important technological breakthroughs. What we have to do in Europe is of course to invest more in this area.”

In Paris, major economies including the United States, China, the European Union, Russia, India and Japan, on Monday met to search for common ground on sharing the burden of fighting climate change.

UN-led talks have moved slowly over the past few years as rich and poor nations squabble over footing the bill to cut carbon emissions and prepare for more extreme weather and rising seas. — Reuters