EU pulls all-nighter to find climate aid cash

2009-12-11 10:30

EUROPEAN leaders, bidding to increase pressure for a worldwide

climate deal in Copenhagen, battled through the night to hammer down a €6?billion

(about R67?billion) aid package for poorer nations.

As the 194 nations meeting seek to secure an agreement to curb

heat-trapping carbon emissions, the question of who will pick up the tab has

become one of the key hurdles on the path to a deal that would replace the Kyoto

Protocol.

European Union nations have already proposed that €100?billion be made

available to poorer nations annually by 2020 to tackle rising sea levels,

deforestation, desertification and other problems associated with climate

change.

However, after talks in Brussels yesterday EU leaders were still

short of an initial €6?billion they had hoped to pledge.

Nevertheless they were confident they’d come up with the cash in a

second day of talks today.

“I believe Europe will today make an offer to push forward the

Copenhagen talks,” British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said.

“Europe will pay its share of a $10 billion (about R75?billion)

fast-track finance fund. Europe will also offer to pay its fair share of the

$100?billion long-term finance required annually by 2020.”

EU officials worked through the night to find €2?billion in so-called

fast-start money between 2010 and 2012.

More medium and long-term funding will follow later.

The largest announced contributions came from Britain (€884 million)

and Sweden (€765 million), with smaller amounts promised

by the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and the Czech Republic. France and Germany,

however, were among those resisting calls to reveal the day’s final tally.

The testy debate between rich and poor countries over who will pick

up the tab for emission curbs has been compounded by a leaked draft agreement,

derided by developing nations that say it favours the more advanced

economies.

Across the Atlantic US lawmakers continued their vexed hunt to

cobble together significant emissions cuts that would pass a Congress replete

with climate sceptics.

President Barack Obama failed to push climate legislation through

congress in advance of the Copenhagen summit, but yesterday a bipartisan group

of senators proposed what they hoped would be the basis of a compromise.

The framework says the world’s largest economy would cut carbon

emissions by 17% by 2020 from 2005 levels, less ambitious than an earlier

senate bill but in line with Obama’s proposals and a bill that squeaked through

the House of Representatives in June.

In day four of the Copenhagen talks yesterday, being held under the

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, blocs of countries pitched competing

visions for a deal as the early arrival of environment ministers stoked pressure

for an outcome.

Rival papers tabled by African countries, small island states,

emerging giant economies and conference chair Denmark jockeyed for a place in a

draft compromise.

They set down varying targets on curbing greenhouse gases that fuel

global warming and funding for poor countries so that they can meet this

potentially mortal threat.

The next step will be to hammer these texts into a workable

blueprint for haggling next week.

Heated negotiations continued late yesterday as France clashed with

other EU nations over how to calculate carbon emissions absorbed and emitted by

forests, a key component of a climate deal.

Divisions were also clear among poorer nations, with a row that has

delayed work in key negotiation pools rumbling on.

Friction was also visible between China and the United States, the

world’s top two polluters, whose positions are central to any climate

deal.

China said countries such as the United States must pay out

billions of dollars in compensation to poorer countries. A US official said

China would not be at the top of any US list of countries receiving

support.

But UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said the mood had improved since

the start and that progress is being made.


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