EU pledges billions to fight climate change | Environment| All topics from climate change to conservation | DW | 11.12.2009
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EU pledges billions to fight climate change

The EU's top politicians are hoping a pledge of billions of euros will give a boost to climate negotiations in Copenhagen. The money is to help developing nations manage expenses associated with the changing climate.

A pair of hands full of euro coins

The EU wants their contribution to be one third of global funds pledged to developing nations

EU leaders at a summit in Brussels agreed to provide at least 7.2 billion euros to a three-year global fund aimed at helping poor nations deal with climate change.

The "fast-start" money, which is based on voluntary contribution from the bloc's 27 member states, is to be made available as of 2010.

The money is a "huge encouragement" for delegates at the climate talks in the Danish capital, UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said. EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said he hoped other nations would now match the EU's ambitions.

"The EU total is equal to 2.4 billion euros ($3.5 billion) per year," over the next three years, with voluntary pledges coming in from all 27 EU member states, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said.

The news came after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown offered to double his country's contribution to at least 1.2 billion pounds (1.3 billion euros, $2 billion). Brown's offer was immediately matched by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who put 1.26 billion euros on the table.

Soon after Germany said it would equal the commitment by France and itself pay 1.26 billion euros into the fund.

Doing nothing is expensive

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, right, pose for a group photo at the European Council building in Brussels, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009

Sarkozy said money needs to be spent, but Merkel hasn't been willing to name a sum

Sarkozy said increasing Europe's pledge was important to give credibility to rich countries' commitments towards African countries, whose cooperation is necessary for the Copenhagen talks to conclude with a deal.

"What's expensive is doing nothing," the French leader said. "What is costly is immobility, is failure."

The EU has said the world's richest nations should provide between 5 billion euros and 7 billion euros per year between 2010 and 2012, with the bloc providing about a third of this figure and the rest coming from the United States, Japan and other wealthy nations.

Any immediate funding would come on top of medium-term aid, which is estimated in the region of hundreds of billions of dollars.

In Brussels, Brown and Sarkozy also urged fellow leaders to push for deeper emissions cuts in order to prevent global warming from exceeding the dangerous threshold of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F).

"The world deal at Copenhagen must be ambitious, global, comprehensive and legally binding within six months," Brown said.

I'll cut mine, if you cut yours

The EU has already agreed to cut its own emissions by 20 percent against 1990 levels by 2020 and to deepen cuts to 30 percent - "provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emission reductions."

"France and the UK want an agreement of at least 30 percent. We are hopeful that all of Europe will support this goal," Sarkozy said.

However, the summit's host, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, acknowledged Thursday that no agreement on the 30 percent cut would likely be reached because of opposition from Poland and others.

Editor: Sean Sinico

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