What's at Stake in the Hague?
COP-6 in The Hague is intended to wrap up three years of negotiations on the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. The Protocol describes a general framework, but the filling in of precise rules and guidelines was postponed for later negotiations. A work programme was agreed upon at the November 1998 COP-4 in Buenos Aires, with COP-6 as the deadline. Final decisions will be taken on the so-called Kyoto rulebook, which includes accounting methods for emissions, rules for the three market-based mechanisms, and compliance issues. Also on the agenda is 'capacity-building' to allow Southern countries to participate in the Kyoto mechanisms.
he chilling reality is that the climate summit in The Hague holds the portent for an agreement that will not only enable Northern governments and their corporations to escape their promised CO2 reductions, but will allow them to significantly increase their emissions. This calamitous scenario will unfold if the wide range of fraudulent 'solutions' promoted by some Northern governments and the unified corporate climate lobby are written into the Kyoto rulebook. Powerful forces are demanding that COP-6 end with a mandate for the Kyoto commitments to be fulfilled through emissions trading, the use of 'carbon sinks' (carbon absorption via forests, wood products, soil and industrial agriculture) and nuclear energy. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), ostensibly set up to facilitate the transfer of funding and technology for energy efficiency measures to Southern countries, could become a tool for subsidising nuclear energy projects, as well as industrial agriculture and tree plantations (including genetically manipulated crops), options with dire social and environmental consequences.
Umbrella Group vs. EU and G-77
"The climate change treaty is becoming more of an economic treaty than an environmental treaty, and countries are looking for a competitive advantage. Giving credits for carbon sinks will likely make European countries lose some advantage because they do not have as many forests or agricultural areas as the US".
- Frank Maisano, Global Climate Coalition. 
In the run-up to COP-6, negotiations have been marked by a split between the two major players in the UN climate talks- the European Union and the so-called umbrella group, led by the United States. The umbrella group, which also includes Japan, Australia, Canada, Russia and Norway, promotes the unlimited use of the Kyoto mechanisms, a position identical to that of the major industry lobby groups. To ensure that countries reduce emissions at home, the EU has been pushing for a limit to the use of market-based mechanisms. The EU's proposal is that at least 50% of reductions should be achieved domestically, but the umbrella group fiercely opposes any such limits. The EU has also voiced doubts about the inclusion of carbon sinks under the market-based mechanisms; the umbrella group, on the other hand, calls for an unlimited use of carbon sinks. The EU has proposed a 'positive list' for the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) that limits the projects to sound technologies such as renewable energy, thereby excluding nuclear energy investments.  The umbrella group, on the contrary, wants all technologies to be included in both the CDM and under JI. Finally, the EU is arguing for financial sanctions for countries that fail to meet their Kyoto obligations, while the umbrella group opposes binding measures (such as penalties and fines) for non-compliance. Observers report that with the approach of COP-6 there are signs of a narrowing gap - disturbing news considering what is at stake. 
Will the EU Sell Out in The Hague?
The EU has history of watering down its demands in the heat of the negotiations and accepting compromises so as not to be left at a competitive disadvantage to the US. This clearly was the case at the Kyoto Summit, where the EU finally committed to reductions of only 8% instead of the 15% it had announced in advance. Moreover, the EU ultimately bowed to pressure to cram the Kyoto Protocol full of market-based instruments. According to the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), the EU has failed sorely when it comes to delivering its promises during UN climate negotiations. The US "sets the agenda while the EU … comes across as reactive, weak and fragmented," the IEEP concludes.  The EU's tendency to backslide will more likely than not also come into play with the crucial issue of limiting the use of emissions trading in fulfilling the Kyoto targets. The EU started off at COP-4 in Buenos Aires with a demand for a 'concrete ceiling', and then in 1999 defined this maximum limit for emissions trading at 50%. This demand is currently the EU's opening bid for COP-6, but when the negotiations get tough a compromise of far less than 50% can be anticipated.  The G-77 countries have collectively demanded a far higher maximum of 70%. 
Apart from its feeble negotiating strategy, the EU has seriously undermined its credibility with the failure of its own climate policies. For starters, greenhouse gas emissions in the EU are increasing at a rapid pace, in direct contradiction to Kyoto obligations. These embarrassing and climate-endangering failures to live up to Kyoto promises are a product of the EU's own devotion to the market. EU plans like the Trans-European Networks (TENs), a € 400 billion programme for new transport infrastructure projects to facilitate growing trade volumes, not to mention the liberalisation of energy markets, make the achievement of the Kyoto targets even more unrealistic. To add insult to injury, the EU's future strategy for implementing its Kyoto commitments leans heavily on emissions trading and voluntary agreements with industry.  An EU-wide CO2/energy tax remains a distant dream, due to unbending opposition by business and a number of EU governments. Attempts in 1992, 1995 and 1997 to introduce a very modest EU-wide energy tax were quickly snuffed, whereas in 1998 the watered-down Monti Proposal  was surprisingly rejected by a coalition of conservatives and UK New Labour MEPs in the European Parliament.  Although the battle is not yet over, the close alliances between industry and national governments opposed to an EU energy tax are a major stumbling block to progress in this area.