EU summit annouces €7.2 bln infusion in adaptation funding for poor nations, eliciting cautious applause

Publish date: December 11, 2009

Written by: Charles Digges

COPENHAGEN – EU leaders meeting in Brussels ground through late night talks in a two day summit to arrive at a figure of €7.2 billion over the next three years in so-called “fast start” funding for poorer nations and developing countries to adapt to climate change.

This figure significantly tops the €2.6 billion closing bid from Thursday’s portion of the summit meeting. But there remain questions as to whether this is a pledge for fresh funding, or rather a reallocation of funding already pledged – questions the EU delegation in Copenhagen has yet to address.

In the best case, the money will be immediately put to work over the next three years from 2010 to 2012, and is part of a $10 billion funding package over the next 10 years for poorer and developing nations who have been at odds with other delegations here in Copenhagen about how to pay for near- to mid term climate change adaptation.

Yvo de Boer, the head of the United Nations climate office, however had called on industrialized nations to give $30 billion to the fund in order to help vulnerable countries to begin planning massive engineering projects like building higher sea walls and converting their electricity systems so they rely on low-carbon sources, the New York Times reported.

Announcing the deal in a press conference in Brussels telecast to the EU delegation in Copenhagen, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said all 27 EU member nations would contribute and the EU was taking its “fair share.”  Sweden currently holds the presidency of the EU, which expires at the end of this month.

Despite the news of a unified Europe, it was Britain and France who stole the show in their own separate press conference. In last minute deal breakers that pushed the funding over the €6 billion over three year mark, France made a commitment it had yesterday been shying away from.

The UK an France also threw in a new emissions commitment to boot, saying  the EU should reduce its greenhouse gasses by 30 percent over 1990 levels.  

Cash eases local tensions

The EU finance deal is being greeted here in Copenhagen as a boost as tensions among poorer nations continue to simmer.

Eivind Hoff, director of Bellona Europa, cautiously applauded the move, and said the cash infusion should be seen as lending some buoyancy to the Copenhagen climate negotiations.

”There have been too many empty pledges in the past. Let’s see the details – if it is truly additional funds for adaptation then it’s a positive first step. But we also know that funding for adaptation is an issue with lots of unanswered questions – not only how to make sure that funding actually delivers adaptation but also how to foresee climate change adaptation needs,” said Hoff from Brussels, where he followed the EU summit.

“This pledge should mainly be seen as a step to improve the negotiating climate at COP15,” he said.

However, some campaign groups have questioned whether the funds promised will be “new” money.

“Almost all of the money is likely to be simply a relabelling of existing aid commitments,” Anne-Catherine Claude of ActionAid, the BBC reported.

“Many EU members have a track record of repackaging or re-announcing existing aid commitments. This appears to be the case here too,” she added.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said during a joint press conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Brussels that, “Our contribution will be at least £1.5bn (€553 million) over the three years and we also believe that Europe will be able to show today it will pay its share of the $10 billion fund

Brown also remarked that the UK contribution was the highest among European nations contributing to the fund.

Unprecedented cooperation

EU commentators in Copenhagen said the joint French-British announcement was an unprecedented show of cooperation aimed at securing a deal for Europe in Copenhagen.

The money being sought is for a “fast start” contribution to help the world’s poorest nations tackle rising sea levels, deforestation, water shortages and other consequences of climate change between 2010 and 2012, and reduce their own emissions.

The promised EU contribution will make up a substantial portion of a proposed global figure of $10bn (€7bn) annually

Brown said the offer showed Europe was “serious” about confronting global climate change, and emphasises that the Copenhagen deal must be consistent with the International Panel on Climate Change’s goal of a global temperature rise of no more than two degrees Celsius.

The IPCC falls under the aegis of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).

Brown tells COP15 to take the money and run

Brown added that the aim of the funding was to encourage EU member states to commit to 30 percent emissions reductions by 2020, and that the agreement emerging fro Copenhagen must include “a financial framework that is for the short-term, medium-term and long-term, and so we have agreed this – the it must include a fast-start launch fund for 2010 to 2012 which is $10 billion annually.”
Sarkozy said France and Britain had decided to co-ordinate all their efforts to achieve “a genuine axis” between Europe and Africa, in order to get the most ambitious agreement possible in Copenhagen.

Press contact for Bellona in Copenhagen:

Tone Foss Aspevoll, Head of information, the Bellona Foundation: +4791720267;