EU fails to fill cash gap as climate talks loom
Author: Barbara Lewis
EU finance ministers have failed to deliver firm promises of cash to help poor nations deal with climate change, threatening progress at international talks to tackle global warming later this month.
Talks on Tuesday in Brussels agreed vague wording but no detail on funding after the end of this year when a first tranche of cash runs out.
"Finance ministers have mainly laid down conditions for developing countries in order to receive climate finance, but forgot to add what they can expect to receive in return," Lies Craeynest, EU economic justice policy adviser at global development group Oxfam, said.
EU finance ministers said in a statement they would continue to provide support and identify "pathways for scaling up climate finance from 2013-2020 from a wide variety of sources".
The funding sources mentioned by the ministers included public and private money and the possibility of using cash from carbon charging for aviation, for instance, to generate funds.
Inclusion of all aviation using EU airports in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) has stirred up an international row, which forced the Commission to announce on Monday a year-long freeze. Flights solely within the EU remain included in the scheme.
They also emphasized the need for developing countries to deliver "measurable, reportable and verifiable climate action".
Poor nations have acknowledged the European Union's economic problems, but believe it has to make convincing promises of new money for the world's poorest.
Small island states and least-developed countries were among those which allied with the European Union in last year's climate summit in Durban to strike a deal to keep the Kyoto process alive.
Finance is crucial to building on that fragile progress, Pa Ousman Jarju, chairman of the Least Developed Countries group in the international climate talks, said.
"We understand the economic situation of the European countries, but there's no way that we can have a deal in Doha that does not provide clarity in terms of post 2012 financing. There must be something on the table," he told Reuters last week.
So far, the European Union is expected to meet a deal to give 7.2 billion euros ($9.15 billion) to developing nations for the period 2010-12.
Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said that was already a big achievement accomplished "despite severe economic constraints".
"Developing countries can count on Europe to continue to provide climate finance after 2012," she said in a statement.
The funding gap dates back to a U.N. summit in Copenhagen in 2009, when leaders agreed the fast start program, which provides cash to the end of 2012, and set a separate goal of $100 billion in annual aid by 2020 to help the poor to slow global warming.
But no one spelled out what would happen from 2013-19.
Some EU nations, such as Britain, have already made firm financial pledges stretching beyond 2012 and the EU will continue debating the finance issue, officials said.
(Editing by Michael Roddy)