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Germany cooks books on climate finance

Germany will not deliver on financial aid promises made at the Copenhagen climate summit to help developing countries deal with climate change, according to draft budget plans for the next two years.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking at the Copenhagen climate summit in December 2009

Big promises were made in Copenhagen, but will they be kept?

At the climate summit last December, German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised that Germany would make 420 million euros in new and additional funds available each year to developing nations, to help them deal with the effects of climate change. However, according to preliminary documents on the national budget for 2011 and 2012, this money is nowhere to be seen.

News magazine Der Spiegel reports that this was the result of cuts to the budgets of the ministries responsible for environment and development. It claimed that Merkel had approved a decision by Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble to cancel the promised payments.

The flooded city of Turiacu in Brazil's northeastern state of Maranhao

Many developing nations are ill-equipped to deal with the effects of climate change

The Berlin-based taz newspaper said that during the budget negotiations, it was clear that Germany was going to lower its commitment. Of the 420 million euros promised, the government had earmarked only 70 million in additional funds, to be equally divided between the environment and development ministries. Now, it appears even this money has been cut, the paper wrote.

"Thirty-five million euros, which were planned for our budget, have been cut," Thomas Hagbeck, spokesman for the Environment Ministry told the taz. So far, the Development Ministry has refused to comment, as its budget negotiations are still ongoing.

Criticism from opposition

Green Party leader Claudia Roth looking at a globe

Germany's Greens accuse Berlin of reneging on its commitments

Critics from the opposition parties have accused Merkel and her government of risking Germany's credibility on the international stage.

"Those who behave in such an untrustworthy way when dealing with developing countries shouldn't even dare to speak of climate diplomacy," said Frank Schwabe, spokesman on climate issues for the Social Democrats.

Claudia Roth, the head of the German Green party, said simply that "climate protection is simply of no significance for the federal government anymore."

Aid organizations and environmental groups are calling on the government to honor its promises in Copenhagen.

"This (decision to cut funds) is landing squarely on the shoulders of people in need of protection in countries that are strongly affected by climate change," said Sven Harmeling of Germanwatch. The promised funds were meant to finance disaster prevention measures as well as measures to protect coastlines and agricultural industries in developing countries.

The German government is due to approve its 2011 budget on July 7.

Author: Deanne Corbett (epd/apn)
Editor: Nathan Witkop

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