Financial aid for developing nations key to securing deal at Copenhagen


CLIMATE REACTION:EU ENVIRONMENT Commissioner Stavros Dimas has long been spelling out that firm pledges of financial aid for developing countries would be essential if agreement is to be reached at December’s UN climate change conference in Copenhagen.

“No money, no deal”, was his slogan.

“Without any money on the table for the negotiations in Copenhagen, we shall not reach an agreement,” he warned repeatedly.

And the additional money involved is significant – up to €15 billion a year from EU member states, according to Mr Dimas.

Just over a week after EU finance ministers failed to reach agreement on a figure, yesterday’s summit in Brussels endorsed the European Commission’s estimate of €2 billion to €15 billion as the EU’s contribution to global public financing of €22-€50 billion from all developed countries.

In doing so, EU leaders have won polite applause from development aid agencies for putting numbers on the table. However, it is not at all clear whether the money would be “new” or diverted from current aid budgets, or how the burden would be shared between EU member states.

Oxfam International complained that even the higher figure of €50 billion per year was “less than half of what developing countries need to adapt to harmful climate change and pursue low-carbon futures”.

It called on the EU to pledge at least €35 billion to a €110 billion global climate fund.

A new report published yesterday by the London-based Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) estimated that, by 2050, hurricanes and other climate change impacts could kill as many as 300,000 people a year and cause annual economic losses of $125 billion (€85 billion).

The report, No Place Like Home, warned that about 10 per cent of the world’s population – some 500 to 600 million people – were “at extreme risk” from storms, hurricanes, flooding, drought or heatwaves and that 150 million could lose their homes because of these phenomena, causing a huge refugee problem.

While welcoming the EU’s recognition that developed countries have a responsibility to help their poorer counterparts, Trócaire’s Niamh Garvey said the finance package agreed in Brussels yesterday was “equivalent to rewrapping an old gift at Christmas and offering it a second time”.

The Climate Action Network (Can) was also critical, accusing the heads of state and government of “waffling” on finance.

Ulrikka Aarnio, Can-Europe policy officer, said they were being short-sighted: “Climate money for developing countries is an emergency investment in the future.”

Can-Europe was also concerned about the leaders’ lack of clarity on the “hot air” issue, a reference to the huge volume of emissions credits built up by central and eastern European countries, as well as Russia, which they all want to bank and carry over into the post-2012 period.

“Current pledges, targets and ‘hot air’ simply don’t add up to limiting global warming to below 2 degrees, which the EU claims to be its goal”, according to the network’s director, Matthias Duwe.

However, he said there was “still time for the EU to step forward and show leadership”.