Environmentalist uproar at EU climate cash failure

Green campaigners have criticised European leaders after they failed to commit cash to help developing countries cut carbon emissions, at a meeting last week.

The European Council put off a decision on how much money it will offer poorer countries at its Brussels summit last week.

Many fear the move undermines the chance of a global deal on emissions cuts to replace the Kyoto Protocol at the crucial UN climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark in December.

Joris den Blanken, of Greenpeace, said: “Developing nations are going to think twice about joining a global climate agreement without concrete financial commitments from rich countries.”

Tom Sharman, of ActionAid, said the move “severely damaged the chances of a decent global climate deal this year”.

Meanwhile, global conservation organisation WWF accused European leaders of failing “to give a clear sign for unconditional support to developing countries in reducing their emissions and helping vulnerable communities adapting to climate change.”

Stephen Singer, WWF global energy programme director, said: “We understand that in times of financial crisis it is difficult to be generous and devote resources to other parts of the world but turning the responsibility around and asking developing countries to put forward proposals for cutting their emissions is a recipe for defeat in Copenhagen.”

But Barbara Helfferich, spokeswoman for EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas, said: “Of course we want developing countries to develop low carbon strategies and plans before we would commit money, but it’s not a case of, ‘You do this first and then you get the money.’ It’s in no way tit for tat.”

EU leaders agreed at the summit to wait for climate change commitments from the USA, China and other countries before outlining an aid offer to developing countries.

José Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, said: “It is important that the United States, Japan and other major contributors also signal what will be their position.”

He insisted the 27-strong EU bloc “remains committed to playing a leading role” in fighting climate change.

It would probably decide later this year how much money to give developing countries to tackle global warming, he added.

Developing countries have agreed to limit greenhouse gas emissions but only on condition they are given financial and technological help from rich countries.

Experts believe the annual bill to help developing countries adapt to climate change and limit their emissions as their economies grow could run into hundreds of billions of dollars.

Yvo de Boer, a senior UN climate change official, believes it could be as much as $220bn a year by 2020.

He has warned it is “essential” the EU gives “significant financial support for developing countries.

He said: “Without a clear commitment from industrialized countries to less developed countries there will not be a deal at Copenhagen.”

The Kyoto treaty, which was not ratified by the USA, sets emissions limits for developed nations and runs out in 2012.

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, whose country will host the December climate talks, warned a new agreement was unlikely “if there is not more money” from the EU and others.

David Gibbs

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