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Cash Seen Key To U.N. Climate Deal

Date: 26-May-09
Country: FRANCE
Author: Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

Cash Seen Key To U.N. Climate Deal Photo: Sebastien Pirlet
European Commissioner for Environment Stavros Dimas gives a news conference at the EC Headquarters in Brussels April 1, 2009.
Photo: Sebastien Pirlet

PARIS - Tens of billions of dollars are likely to be needed to help poor nations curb greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change under a new U.N. treaty, European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said.

"Everybody agreed that additional money is needed and without money an agreement in Copenhagen will not be possible," Dimas told Reuters after the first day of a two-day meeting of 17 major greenhouse gas emitters in Paris on Monday.

The talks among environment ministers, the second in an initiative by U.S. President Barack Obama, are working on a new U.N. treaty due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

"We didn't discuss this (issue of cash) but the sooner we have this discussion the better," he said of the talks which included the world's top greenhouse gas emitters led by China, the United States, the EU, Russia and India.

The EU will debate climate finances at a summit on June 18-19 after delays partly caused by recession that has hit state coffers. EU leaders have previously agreed to contribute their fair share to developing nations, Dimas said.

Asked how much cash he reckoned was needed to help curb emissions, Dimas noted a European Commission document in January quoted independent researchers' estimates of net global incremental investments of 175 billion euros ($245 billion) by 2020.

Half of that total would be needed in developing nations.

And he noted the same report quoted a U.N. estimate that costs of helping developing nations adapt to impacts of climate change -- ranging from drought-resistant crops to coastal barriers against rising sea levels -- would be between 23 and 54 billion euros a year by 2030.

Part of that cash could be raised by carbon markets, some by public finances, some by other sources.

LOW-CARBON

Dimas said developing nations also needed cash, for instance, to help train officials to work out strategies to avert dependence on fossil fuels. "Money is urgently needed ... to help develop low-carbon national strategies," he said.

Many developing nations are refusing to outline what they plan to do to slow their rising greenhouse gas emissions, saying they need first to know how much aid will be available. Rich nations want to see poor nations' plans first.

But Dimas also said some actions to curb climate change in poor nations, such as replacing an inefficient coal-fired power plant, could save money by cutting energy consumption.

"There are quite a lot of projects, especially energy efficiency, which will pay for themselves," Dimas said.

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