Today, the Flemish minister for the environment, Mss Joke Schauvliege left for Cancún and COP16. As, at this moment, Belgium assumes the presidency of the EU, she will also play an important role in representing the European perspective. At the airport of Brussels, a delegation of the Climate Coalition, an umbrella for around 70 organisations, invited the minister to push forward the negotiations for a follow-up agreement on the Kyoto Protocol. Of course, in the meantime we know that precisely these negotiations seem to be blocked. The core difficulty, at political level, is probably the difficulty of multilateral agreements. In this context, it is interesting to note that already immediately after the Copenhagen COP16, at which he was not present, Herman Van Rompuy expressed in a conversation, leaked by WikiLeaks, with US ambassador in Belgium Howard Gutman that he did not expect real results from a multilateral meeting as Cancún. A summary of that conversation is available in the Euobserver. Of course, the president of the European Council is convinced of the urgency of climate change and the planetary environmental challenges, but at the same time, when looking for a political approach, he emphasizes to clarify and solidify the European position and commitment, and then to engage in bilateral negotiations, first with the USA and then with the USA and China.
After it has become clear that Japan is unwilling to pursue a re-negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol and in view of this conversation between Van Rompuy and Gutman, one may wonder whether it will be possible to design a political strategy that will lead to an urgently needed agreements on mitigation, adaptation, financial support and technological transfers.