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EU considers EUR 15 bln to help poor nations on climate

Brussels – The European Union will propose giving developing countries EUR 15 billion annually to help fight climate change, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said Wednesday.

Reinfeldt said that the figure, which represents a target annual contribution to be reached by 2020, is a "starting-point" in negotiations on a new global deal to combat climate change after Kyoto Protocol requirements expire in 2012.

"The (European) Commission has presented EUR 15 billion as the European part of the global response," said Reinfeldt, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.

World leaders will meet at a crucial summit in Copenhagen in December to negotiate a successor to Kyoto.

Reinfeldt said the commission proposal still "has to be discussed with all the EU member states. It’s a starting point of discussion".

The load will be shared between EU members based on gross domestic product "and other factors like emission levels", he added.

A European diplomat said authorities are looking for the EU’s total contribution to be twice that amount, or 30 percent of the EUR 100 billion the EU estimates are required per year to meet emissions reduction targets by 2020.

The other half would come from the private sector, from trade in carbon emissions rights quotas.

"What we have now is not enough," Reinfeldt added, calling for US President Barack Obama to up the US contribution while welcoming a proposal from Japan’s new ruling party to come up with a quarter of the sum there.

A diplomatic source said the EU wants to see the equivalent of EUR 12 billion per year coming from the United States.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen welcomed the EU announcement and called for talks between rich and developing nations to move faster with only three months to go until the climate summit, which he is hosting.

"It is very encouraging that the European Commission now puts forward a concrete and ambitious proposal on climate financing," he said.

"We need to accelerate discussions between developed and developing countries on both financing and emissions reductions," he said.

"A strong message from the EU at this point will add new momentum into the global negotiations."

Rich and poorer countries have been at loggerheads for years over how to share the burden of battling climate change, with emerging industrialised economies such as Brazil, China and India demanding greater input from countries they say created the problem.

Brussels is due to present proposals on how to finance the fight to control climate change on Thursday, amid a tight squeeze on member states’ finances following huge economic stimulus spending.

During a series of meetings with European parliamentary groupings aimed at endorsing his bid for another five-year term as European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso said China must also cough up.

"It’s only a proposition," said Barroso, ahead of what he said would be tough negotiations between the 27 EU member states.

"China can also pay a bit (more). I want the major emerging countries to do their bit as well."

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon last week warned that hopes of a breakthrough in time for the Copenhagen deadline depend on a summit of world leaders in New York on 22 September to discuss climate change.

AFP / Expatica