Page last updated at 12:59 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 13:59 UK

EU proposes climate risk billions

By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Jose Manuel Barroso
Mr Barroso sees the proposal as "ambitious and fair"

The European Commission says the EU should provide $2-15bn each year to help poor countries protect themselves against impacts of climate change.

The UN estimates that poor nations will need about $100bn (£60bn) per year for climate adaptation, with much of that coming from levies on carbon trading.

The commission hopes its proposal will stimulate negotiations leading up to December's UN summit in Copenhagen.

Campaign groups say the sums are less than the EU ought to be spending.

"With less than 90 days before Copenhagen, we need to make serious progress in these negotiations," said commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

"I am determined that Europe will continue to provide a lead, but developed and economically advanced developing countries must also make a contribution."

The EU is trying to get away with leaving a tip, rather than paying its share of the bill
Joris den Blanken, Greenpeace

The commission sees about 40% of the $100bn coming from the global carbon market that is supposed to emerge from the Copenhagen treaty.

The remainder would come from domestic spending by the countries affected, and from international public financing.

The commission believes that "industrialised nations and economically more advanced developing countries" will have to provide $22-50bn per year.

It believes $2-15bn is an appropriate share for the EU. The bloc already sees itself as a leader on climate change, having pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020, or by 30% if a global deal is agreed in Copenhagen that involves other developed countries pledging significant cuts.

Developing challenge

Financing for climate adaptation has been a major stumbling block in the prepatory talks.

Environmental groups have been pressing the EU to come up with a strong proposal, and were not impressed with the final figure.

"The EU is trying to get away with leaving a tip, rather than paying its share of the bill to protect the planet's climate," said Joris den Blanken, climate and energy policy director of Greenpeace-EU.

Environmental groups argue that western nations are historically responsible for causing man-made climate change, and so must bear the brunt of any "compensation money" for the developing world - a position that is shared by governments of many poorer countries.

Recently the African Union suggested that African countries alone should receive $67bn per year.

"The commission's communique is going for the lowest common denominator - it seriously lacks ambition," commented Liz Gallagher, head of climate finance policy at the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (Cafod).

"The EU were once the leading lights on climate change, but the financial crisis is dimming their leadership."

The communique's reference to "economically more advanced developing countries" is likely to prove particularly controversial.

There has been little to indicate that countries such as South Korea, Singapore, Kuwait or China would be willing to put sums into a pot for this kind of initiative.

The proposal will now be considered by the European Council and European Parliament.

Richard.Black-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk



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