Britain and France have proposed a multi-billion-dollar fund to help poor nations cope with climate change. The pitch is seen as an attempt to break a political deadlock ahead of key UN climate talks beginning Dec. 7.
Hopes for a 2009 climate change deal are fading
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have separately put forward plans that would see developing nations receive billions of dollars over the next three years to help them tackle climate change.
Brown spoke of a $10-billion (6.7 billion euros) fund over three years, while Sarkozy referred to a deal that would see $10 billion a year paid out over three years until 2012.
The British leader said half of the money should go towards aiding the recipient countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. The other half would be spent on helping them adapt to the effects of climate change that many scientists believe are already locked in.
Build up to Copenhagen
The so-called Copenhagen Launch Fund, as Brown termed it, would amount to a fraction of the estimated sum rich nations will have to pay to developing nations to help them cope with climate change.
Brown said the summit was a "springboard" for agreeing a climate change deal
But with a deadlock between developed and developing countries over just how much money rich countries should pay, the launch fund is being seen as a positive step by industrialized countries to break the impasse.
The standoff has loomed as a possible threat to integral UN-backed climate talks to begin in Copenhagen on Dec. 7, at which it is hoped a legally binding successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol can be reached. The Kyoto Protocol, which sought to put carbon dioxide emissions limits on signatory states, expires in 2012.
"I think it is very important that the deadlock is broken," Gordon Brown said in a statement issued from a meeting of heads of government of the Commonwealth group of nations in Trinidad and Tobago. "That means that the poorer countries must have an understanding that the richer countries will help them adapt to climate change and make the necessary adjustments in their economies."
Copenhagen deal "within reach"
Sarkozy, meanwhile, told reporters at the Commonwealth leaders summit that the world "can no longer afford to be unambitious … what is at stake here is the future of our planet."
The French president was a surprise addition to the summit being held in Port-of-Spain on the island of Trinidad. UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen also attended the gathering of 53 heads of state representing around two billion people.
"Each week brings new commitments and pledges - from industrialized countries, emerging economies and developing countries alike," Ban told the meeting. "An agreement is within reach ... we must seal a deal in Copenhagen."
More than 85 heads of state have announced their attendance for the Copenhagen summit, which is scheduled to run until Dec. 18.
Many observers doubt a legally binding treaty for combating climate change will be reached in Copenhagen, though momentum has been building in recent weeks towards a broad political framework pact that could see an international climate treaty eventually signed in 2010.
Editor: Mark Hallam