EU fails to commit to climate change aid

21st March 2009, Comments 0 comments

No figure was agreed upon at a recent two-day summit in Brussels, with the EU not keen to show its hand before the United States, China and others indicate their proposals.

Brussels -- A European Union summit refused Friday to put a figure on aid for developing nations to cut greenhouse gases, waiting instead to see what the United States and others have to offer.

The European Commission had mooted 30 billion euros.

However, no figure was agreed upon at a two-day summit that ended Friday, with the EU not keen to show its hand before the United States, China and others had indicated their proposals.

Pressure is mounting ahead of global climate change talks to be held in Copenhagen in December.

"We have, before taking a formal decision on our side, to ask other developed countries also to come with us (so that) the US, Japan and many other contributors also signal what will be their position," said European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso.

It would be "premature" for Europe to name a figure now, he said, adding that such a decision would be made some time between June and the Copenhagen conference, he added.

That position was expressed by several of the leaders behind closed doors, according to sources.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on the fundamental role of the United States and the need to find out the intentions of President Barack Obama, they said.

There was also no agreement at the summit on how to divide the costs, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk admitted after a debate with his European counterparts on Thursday.

Tusk, whose country relies heavily on coal-fired power stations, said "the simplistic mechanism of 'the polluter pays' is unacceptable."

The EU leaders stressed that the European Union remains committed to playing a leading role in bringing about a global and comprehensive climate agreement in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Environmental groups slammed the European leaders’ message.

The EU leaders "spent most of their time discussing multi-billion euro responses to the financial and economic crises and did not commit a single cent of the money Europe must contribute to international efforts to deal with global warming," said Friends of the Earth. "Poor countries will not agree to a new treaty unless they have assurances from the developed world," it added, in an argument also voiced by Action Aid and Oxfam.

"After more than one year of discussions, European leaders have once again put on hold decisions that could stimulate a global climate deal," said the WWF.

Claude Turmes, a Green member of the European parliament from Luxembourg, denounced the summit's "timidity."

EU nations have committed to ambitious environmental goals by 2020 that aim to reduce greenhouse gases by 20 percent, to make 20 percent energy efficiencies and to increase the use of renewable energy sources to 20 percent of the total.

Christian Spillmann/AFP/Expatica

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