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Environment ministers pass the buck on climate financing

3 Mar 2009


Environment ministers failed yesterday (2 March) to hammer out an EU position for global climate talks, passing the buck on funding to finance ministers expected to meet next Tuesday (10 March) in Brussels.

Ministers recognised the importance of both bilateral and multilateral funding for climate change, and debated two funding options: revenue raised through the auctioning of emission permits and an annual financial commitment to allocate money according to country-based emissions and economic strength assessments.

Nevertheless, commitments to concrete figures remained elusive and the matter was forwarded to economic and finance ministers. Decisions are not expected until the EU summit on 19-20 March.

Instead, the Environment Council fully endorsed a call by the European Commission for developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15-30% from their expected 2020 levels by the same date (EurActiv 29/01/09). It asked all developing countries to devise low-carbon development plans by 2012 and economically more advanced ones to develop cap-and-trade systems as soon as possible.

Many member states claim it is too early to sign up to any financial commitments, saying the EU should not lay its cards on the table just yet, government sources said.

"Even climate leaders like Sweden and the UK are seeking to keep any reference to specific numbers and commitments out of the environment ministers' declaration," Tom Sharman, ActionAid's head of climate change, lamented ahead of the Council meeting.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), total investment in climate change will have to reach €175 billion a year by 2020, excluding adaptation measures, if global warming is to be halted before its impact becomes irreversible.

The Commission's proposal endorsed the IPCC's assessment, saying more than half of it would have to go to developing countries, but failed to present any figures for the EU to commit to. The €175 billion figure was criticised by Greenpeace as "irrelevant". It sets no target for the EU as a bloc, but refers to the climate efforts of all nations and includes both public and private funding sources, the group said.

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