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The EU wants to reach out to developing countries to break climate deadlockImage: Picture-Alliance /dpa/DW

Climate change

September 10, 2009

Ahead of a major UN conference on climate change, the European Union is planning to contribute up to 15 billion euros ($22 billion) a year as part of a global response to help developing countries fight global warming.


For months developing countries have been calling on Brussels to come up with a concrete offer to help them deal with droughts and crop failures worsened by climate change.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas announced on Thursday a framework agreement that would see the European Union paying developing countries up to 15 billion euros a year by 2020 to cut emissions that cause global warming. Developing countries would also be required to pay 20-40 billion euros.

"Now we must break the impasse in the Copenhagen negotiations," Dimas told reporters. "We know climate change forces additional costs on developing countries."

Experts have estimated that that the fight against climate change will cost around 100 billion euros annually from 2020.

Dimas said that the EU could contribute 2-15 billion euros with the rest coming from taxes on global shipping, aviation and industry. Another 38 billion could come from auctioning off emissions rights, leaving a sum of between 22 and 50 billion euros that industrialized countries would have to pay.

World map showing extent climate change has on the world
Rising global temperatures would endanger the planet's ecosystemImage: dpa - Bildfunk

But Africa has warned it will veto any deal that is not generous enough, arguing that the industrialized nations should bear the main financial burden to cut emissions from industry.

This could create a major stumbling block ahead of a scheduled UN conference in Copenhagen in December to find a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change that expires in 2012.

Development aid agencies and environmentalists have sharply criticized the EU proposal.

"The proposed sums are far too low," said Oxfam climate expert Han Kowalzig. "It is not acceptable that poorer nations should be paying for a large contribution to cushion the impact of the damage to the environment."

The European Commission, the bloc's executive body, has confirmed that EU financial support to combat climate change could also be deducted partly from promised increases in development aid.

"The proposal threatens to derail negotiations for a new climate accord, because developing countries are being burdened with a disproportionate share of the costs," said European parliamentarian Rebecca Harms of the Green party.

EU member states have already agreed to cut their own emissions by a fifth below their 1990 levels by 2020, but they have yet to agree on how to share the financial burden of fighting climate change globally. The EU has calculated that 30 percent of the 100 billion euros are needed to meet emission targets by 2020.

Starting point

Describing the commission proposal as a "starting point" for discussion, the EU on Wednesday said the 27-nation block will shoulder the financial burden based on their gross domestic product (GDP) and other factors like emission levels.

The private sector will pick up 50 percent of this amount from trade in carbon emissions reduction rights quotas. European taxpayers will also pay into the fund.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has said that China should also play its part in footing the bill.

"It's only a proposition. China can also pay a bit more. I want the major the major emerging countries to do their bit as well."

Poster Pressebild World Climate Conference 3 WCC3

Japan's new ruling party says it will contribute a quarter of the sum and a diplomatic source said the EU wants to see the equivalent of 12 billion euros per year coming from the United States.

World leaders will meet in Copenhagen in December to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. Emerging countries, like India, China and India, demand greater input from industrialized countries.

Danish Climate and Energy Minister Connie Hedegaard, who will be hosting the UN conference, has expressed concern about the slow pace of negotiations.

"Negotiations in Copenhagen are precisely three months away. We need to speed up if we are to use the historic momentum and deliver on the Copenhagen deadline that the world set in 2007 in Bali," Hedegaard said in a statement.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned that hopes of a breakthrough ahead of a Copenhagen deadline would depend on a positive outcome at an upcoming summit of world leaders in New York on Sept. 22.

A UN report released last week estimates that between $500 billion and $600 billion would be needed annually to address some of the problems caused by climate change.


Editor: Nancy Isenson

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