Developing nations slam EU climate fund pledge

2009-12-12 10:45

Developing nations at the UN climate conference rejected as

“insignificant” on Friday an EU pledge of 7.2 billion euros (about R78.5

billion) to help them tackle global warming.

As Copenhagen braced for yesterday’s protests, expected to draw

tens of thousands of demonstrators, EU leaders agreed to the funding, to be paid

out over three years, at a summit in Brussels.

The accord came a week before 110 heads of state and government

convene in Copenhagen for the finale of the 12-day conference aimed at hammering

out a new deal on curbing greenhouse gases.

“The fact that Europe is going to put a figure on the table will, I

think, be hugely encouraging to the process,” said UN climate chief Yvo de Boer.

“We will then have to see what other rich countries are going to put on the

table.”

Every one of the 27 EU member states will contribute, with Britain

giving up £1.2 billion pounds (about R14.5?billion).

But in Copenhagen, the Group of 77 developing nations – actually a

caucus of 130 states that includes China – said the proposal fails to address

the issue of setting up long-term financing mechanisms.

“I believe they are not only insignificant, they actually breed

even more distrust on the intentions of European leaders on climate change,”

said Lumumba Stanislaus Dia-Ping of Sudan.

“Our view is that European leaders are acting as if they were

climate sceptics,” he said. “Fundamentally, they are saying this problem does

not exist and therefore they are providing no finance whatsover.”

Danish police meanwhile rounded up dozens of anti-capitalist

demonstrators and beefed up security at Denmark’s land and sea borders to

prevent troublemakers from entering the country.

Helicopters buzzed in the skies while armoured police vans and

canine squads patrolled the streets, amid fears that Saturday’s march through

the Danish capital could be joined by violent far-left groups.

“It looks like a military zone, the police are everywhere,” said

Gerardo Gambirazio, an American geography researcher who was checking out the

goings-on in the city.

The EU proposal, and the backlash it generated, came as the first

official draft of a potential Copenhagen agreement emerged – only for the United

States to reject a key section as “unbalanced“.

Besides setting a target for limiting global warming, the

seven-page blueprint calls for a second commitment period under the Kyoto

protocol, which runs out in 2012 without ever having been ratified by the United

States.

One key part reads: “Parties shall cooperate to avoid dangerous

climate change, in keeping with the ultimate objective of the Convention,

recognising the broad scientific view that the increase in global average

temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2ºC.”

The lower target is embraced by small island states and many

African nations badly threatened by climate change, while the higher target has

been supported by rich nations and emerging giants such as China, India and

Brazil.

But while the draft is “constructive” in many ways, it fails to

press the up-and-coming powers hard enough to slash their carbon output, chief

US negotiator Todd Stern told reporters.

On that point, he added, the text is “unbalanced”.

“If we are talking about the need to keep the temperature increase

below a 2.0ºC rise ... you can’t even have that discussion if the major

developing countries are not taking a major role,” Stern told reporters.

“The United States is not going to do a deal without major

developing countries stepping up,” he added.

The draft text also leaves open three possible targets for an

overall reduction of global carbon emissions by 2020, compared with 1990 levels

_– by 50%, by 80% and by 95%.

Industrialised countries favour the 50% goal, but major emerging

economies led by China balk at any such target unless it is made clear that rich

countries will assume near totality of the burden.

The US Congress has yet to pass a comprehensive plan on climate

change but it is taking action on one front – ordering an in-depth “carbon

audit” of the tax code, which some fear offers Americans incentives to be

polluters.

Representative Earl Blumenauer said the audit was a “small but

significant” sign that the United States is serious about climate change.


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