Belgium fails to reach climate deal in time for Paris summit
As the Paris climate conference started on Monday, Belgium had failed to produce a common policy. Four of its governments – one federal and three regional – have been negotiating for no less than six years. Yet an agreement could not be reached.
The negotiations centre on the regional division of the efforts and the source of the Climate Funds, to be invested in environmental measures. About a month ago, an agreement seemed close, but it was turned down by the government of Flanders (embarrassing its own environment minister, Joke Schauvliege) and the federal government (embarrassing its own climate minister Marie-Christine Marghem).
N-VA, Flanders’ largest party, in particular felt that too much was expected from Flanders.
Complicating matters even further is the different governments’ coalitions. The French-speaking socialists and Christian-democrats, which control government in the Brussels-Capital and Walloon regions, are oppositions parties on the federal level. This makes them reluctant to co-operate, preferring to embarrass their political opponents.
Over the weekend, no fewer than six ministers – responsible for the environment, energy and climate – met again in an ultimate effort to reach an agreement before the start of the climate summit. They failed.
They even failed to agree whether there was a “pre-agreement” or not. Marghem, meanwhile, decided not to board the climate train to Paris on Sunday.
We have never been this close to an agreement, prime minister Charles Michel (MR, pictured) said on Monday. He believes that there is no reason to be embarrassed. “Belgium sticks to its commitments and is actually credited internationally. The Belgians, like the rest of Europe, are amongst the world’s most ambitious when it comes to fighting climate change.”
Michel has his work cut out for him: to convince not just international experts but his own citizens.
Photo courtesy VRT