Preparation Environment Council, 11 June 2012

The final Environment Council under the Danish Presidency will be held on 11 June in Luxembourg. Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik and Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard will represent the European Commission. Ministers are expected to adopt conclusions on the framework for the 7th EU Environment Action Programme. Conclusions will also be adopted on preparations for international negotiations on the Biodiversity Convention and the Biosafety Protocol. Over lunch Ministers will discuss climate finance for developing countries post-2012 and prospects for the next UN climate change conference, to be held at the end of November in Doha, Qatar. An orientation debate will follow on the proposal for a decision regarding accounting rules and action plans on greenhouse gas emissions and removals resulting from activities related to land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF). The ‘A’ points to be adopted without discussion include conclusions on international chemicals and the preparations for the upcoming fourth international mercury negotiation session (27 June-2 July) and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management conference (17-21 September), drawing the attention of Ministers to the importance of international work in the chemicals area. Among the Any Other Business (AOB) points, the Commission and the Presidency will report on preparations for the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held June 20-22, and the Presidency will inform ministers about developments on two legislative files, the Proposal for a Directive on environmental quality standards in the field of water policy (priority substances), and the Proposal for a new Regulation on LIFE, the funding instrument for climate and the environment.

7th EAP
As the current (sixth) Environmental Action Programme expires in July 2012, preparations are now well advanced in the Commission for a successor initiative aiming to provide a coherent overarching framework for environment policy up to 2020. Environment Ministers are expected to adopt conclusions in a public debate outlining priorities they would like to see reflected in the new Programme. The conclusions will focus on three areas. The first is the long-term vision that should guide EU environment policy to 2050, reflecting the EU’s resource efficiency, biodiversity and climate change objectives and the aspiration to move to a toxin-free, clean and healthy environment. The second is better implementation of existing environment policy including strengthening environment policy, legislation and information where relevant, with the spotlight on ideas recently put forward by the Commission for how to make this happen (see IP/12/220 and MEMO/12/159) as well as on policies related to human health, climate change adaptation and biodiversity. The third section of the conclusions is expected to focus on accelerating the transformation to a green economy, highlighting inter alia the need to promote sustainable consumption and production patterns, to boost eco-innovation, support the circular economy and improve the integration of environment policy into EU sectorial policies and financing tools. The conclusions are also expected to welcome the launch of the European Innovation Partnerships on Water and Raw Materials.

Biodiversity and biosafety
Environment Ministers are expected to adopt conclusions on the EU position for the sixth meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP-MOP 6) to be held in Hyderabad, India, from 1 to 5 October 2012, and for the eleventh Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which is also being held in Hyderabad from the 8 to 19 October 2012. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the international agreement that protects biodiversity and commits governments to the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from genetic resources. COP 11 will focus primarily on resource mobilisation for the implementation of the Strategic Plan and related “Aichi targets” agreed at the successful Nagoya COP in 2010, and the conclusions are expected to reflect this.

Greenhouse gas emissions from, and carbon removals by, forestry and agriculture
Ministers will hold an orientation debate on the proposed Decision on accounting rules and action plans on greenhouse gas emissions from, and their removal by, activities related to land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF). The Decision, proposed by the Commission in March (see IP/12/234 and MEMO/12/176), would establish harmonised accounting rules for carbon emissions and removals in forestry and agriculture. Member States would also have to establish action plans to increase removals of carbon and reduce emissions from forests and soils. The proposal is a first step towards including forestry and agriculture in the EU’s greenhouse gas emission reduction effort. It may be followed in a second phase by the setting of national emission reduction targets for these sectors.

The orientation debate will be guided by two questions formulated by the Danish Presidency. The first seeks Member States’ views on the phased approach proposed by the Commission. The second asks how Member States can best stimulate the LULUCF sector’s potential to mitigate emissions at this stage, and how all actors can best share experiences, for example through the proposed LULUCF action plans.

Any other business
Among the AOB points, the Presidency and the Commission will report on the state of play for the RIO+20 conference, following the latest negotiation session in New York. The Presidency will present information on two on-going legislation dossiers, the priority substances proposal under the Water Framework Directive proposed by the Commission in January, and latest developments regarding the new LIFE Regulation, the funding instrument for environment and climate, which is due for 2014. The Commission will update Environment Ministers on latest developments concerning action by the EU and at international level to address greenhouse gas emissions from civil aviation.

A press conference will take place at 13.00
The 7th EAP discussions can be viewed live shortly after 0930 via the Council web stream:

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