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EU accused of risking Copenhagen climate talks with stance on aid funding

External Reference/Copyright
Issue date: 
November 29, 2009
Publisher Name: 
The Guardian
John Vidal and David Adam
Author e-Mail: 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/johnvidal and http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/davidadam
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Confidential papers reveal Europeans want assistance for poorer countries to come from existing cash pot. The EU was accused of threatening the global climate talks last night after confidential papers showed it wants existing overseas aid funding to be used to help poor countries adapt to global warming, not new and additional funds.

The papers, seen by the Guardian, show that the EU has removed lines in the negotiating text of next month's Copenhagen climate change summit which stress the principle that climate change aid comes on top of existing development aid. The EU negotiating team has written: "Cannot accept reference to 'additional to', and 'separate from' ODA [official development assistance] targets."

Aid agencies said Europe threatened to fatally undermine the talks.

"No developing country will sign up to an agreement that could give them no extra money at all. The EU and other rich countries must provide new and additional finance, otherwise there will be no deal at all," said Rob Bailey, Oxfam's senior policy adviser. Developing nations have been unanimous and implacable on the terms of the finance deal.

Rich countries accept they must pay poor ones to adapt to increasing droughts, floods and rising seas, but Europe is known to be split over whether existing aid should provide the cash.

Britain and Holland have argued strongly that it be largely additional, but Germany, France and most small member states have said they want existing aid to be used. In the latter case, spending on poverty, health, water, and education in some of the poorest countries in the world would be significantly reduced. But in a separate development, Britain was embarrassed when it emerged that all the climate aid money it has so far pledged or provided to poor countries has come from its existing aid budget, despite statements by Gordon Brown that it should be largely additional to existing funds.

In an email seen by the Guardian, an official in the Department for International Development (DfID) states: "All of the money pledged, committed, and/or spent [on climate change] thus far comes from within the UK's 0.7% GNI ODA commitment."

Britain has pledged nearly £1bn, with most of it channelled into global funds run by the World Bank. But it has separately promised nearly £200m to help especially vulnerable countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal. Earlier this year, Brown said: "The government recognises that finance to tackle climate change cannot simply be part of ODA. [It] should not be allowed to divert money from the pledges we have already made to the poorest."

On Friday, Brown proposed a new £10bn global fund to kickstart the post-Copenhagen regime. He promised Britain would contribute £800m, although the contribution is expected to be entirely drawn from existing budgets.

Finance now threatens to become the main obstacle to securing a global climate deal at Copenhagen, following US and Chinese moves last week to provide targets for cuts in their emissions.

Poor countries want a minimum of $400bn (£242bn) a year by 2020 to help them adapt, but rich countries have proposed only €110bn (£100bn) a year.

A history of broken promises has seen poor countries become deeply distrustful of climate pledges by rich countries and they say they want guaranteed funding to address the climate change that rich countries have largely caused. Last week, Oxfam stated that only $128m of the money pledged in the last decade by rich countries for adaptation had been handed out, and the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, accused industrialised countries of failing to keep their promises.

Kit Vaughan, the head of climate adaptation at WWF, said: "Gordon Brown was the first leader to step up and call for a global fund to fight climate change, and insisted this shouldn't come out of existing aid budgets. But so far, all the climate money has come out of the aid budget. Under a Copenhagen deal, it's crucial to find new and additional money that avoids robbing from the poor."

Europe, along with other rich countries, has a poor track record on meeting its commitments on climate finance. At a UN meeting in Bonn in 2001, the EU, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and New Zealand said they would jointly pay developing countries $410m (£200m) a year from 2005 to 2008. Barely a 10th of the promised money has so far been delivered.A DfID spokesman said: "Additional funding for climate change will be made available from 2013, which is when the commitments from the Copenhagen summit will come into effect. Britain will push at Copenhagen for all countries to provide new and additional finance to tackle climate change."


Extpub | by Dr. Radut