Critics claim EU leaders have performed U-turn on Bali agreement by forcing developing nations to provide details on climate change plans.
Tom Young, BusinessGreen, 19 Mar 2009
EU countries must stick to existing promises to fund climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries or risk derailing any potential international deal in Copenhagen later this year, the UN’s climate change chief has warned this week.
In a clear sign that the global recession is putting strain on the EU’s commitment to play a leading role at the forthcoming talks, EU politicians are now reportedly asking developing countries to produce plans on how they cut emissions before they hand over previously committed funds. The requests are contrary to the hard-won UN deal achieved at the Bali talks in 2007, where EU countries agreed to provide financing for countries such as China and India to tackle their emissions without any pre-conditions.
Yvo de Boer, secretary of the UN climate programme (UNFCCC) told the BBC that the EU’s stance was undermining the on-going negotiations, which are meant to culminate in an agreement to replace the Kyoto deal later this year at talks in Copenhagen. “Quite frankly the language from [EU] ministers rewrites some of the fundamental agreements we made in Bali,” he said. “I don’t think it’s constructive to enter into a negotiation by trying to change the fundamental principles on which you’ve just agreed the negotiation will be based.” Developing countries such as China and India have already made it clear that they will not enter into any agreement to reduce their emissions in Copenhagen without assurances that financing is in place.
Speaking at a press conference earlier this week, de Boer said that the EU’s lead climate negotiator Jos Delbeke was asking developing countries to go further than had been previously agreed. However, Delbeke told the BBC that it was entirely reasonable for the EU to seek assurances as to how climate change funding will be spent. “Action [from developing countries] should be meaningful,” he said. ” Otherwise how can we say to the EU citizens: please pay and we are completely unsure if we are going to land on two, three or five [degrees] Celsius.” He added that the EU’s stance was “still within the spirit of the Bali action plan”. “We are opening up negotiations so I think it’s fair and really time that everybody sets out what they really want,” he said. “On finance what we agreed to in Bali, we are going to respect it… but the political process is bringing elements on the table.”
The row is further complicated by rifts within the EU itself over levels of financing for the developing world. While many of the richer nations in the bloc remain broadly committed to providing funding to developing nations, several eastern European states and countries worst affected by the recession are more wary about handing over any funds. Poland in particular is widely reported as being opposed to distributing any money without assurances on action. EU leaders will hold talks later today on the levels of financing they should provide.
De Boer estimates developing countries would need financing of $5bn (£3.5bn) to $10bn a year to reduce their emissions to the required level, rising to $220bn a year by 2020. EU countries have not yet provided any hint of the amount of finance they are considering, with some countries arguing that numbers should be kept secret until the last minute as a negotiating strategy.