EU Summit for ‘fast track’ money to poorer nations showing progress on second day

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Publish date: December 10, 2009

Written by: Charles Digges

COPENHAGEN – EU delegates struggled through the night to try to hammer out a deal aimed at securing €6 billion in pledges to give poorer nations for climate change mitigation, which would give a significant boost to negotiators here in Copenhagen who are still at a standstill on where the funding will come from.

On the first day of a two-day summit in Brussels EU leaders had wanted to agree a joint offer of about €6 billoion over a three year period. It is widely thought in Copenhagen that an EU pledge could boost chances of a deal at UN climate talks here.

“It would be a sign of increased willingness and show that Europe is behind the talks with no false starts,” said Svend Soeyland, international director for Bellona. “Of course we need more, but the best that the EU can do at this point is provide serious money.”

The issue of throwing a lifeline to poorer nations, which was predicted to be difficult, has been a centre-stage issue at the Copenhagen talks for its past three full working days.

The Swedish EU presidency worked especially hard with national officials into the wee hours on Friday in an attempt to squeeze more pledges for the so-called ‘fast-start’ money to help tackle rising sea levels, deforestation, desertification and other problems associated with climate warming as well as doing what they can to slow it down.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Friday predicted that the bloc would reach an agreement.

“I believe Europe will today make an offer to push forward the Copenhagen talks,” Brown said according to his office.

“Europe will pay its share of a 10-billion-dollar fast track finance fund. Europe will also offer to pay its fair share of the 100-billion-dollar long-term finance required annually by 2020.”

EU officials in Copenhagen, who wished to remain anonymous in interviews with Bellona Web, were also hopeful that wary nations could be dragged over the threshold by early afternoon on Friday.

Eastern Europe, France and Germany reluctant to dig deep

But analysts say wealthier states are struggling to convince poorer Eastern European countries to contribute. Considerably more wealthy France and Germay are also dragging their  feet to the bank.

The first day of the European summit broke up late Thursday with the EU presidency still short of its goal but confident that more money could be forthcoming.

“There are still a couple of countries that have to make explicit decisions, then we’ll get the calculators out and tot up the total,” an EU diplomat told Agency France Presse.

When the prime ministers and presidents restart their summit in Brussels later Friday, they will find out whether a long night of arm-twisting has borne fruit, said the BBC.

“We will have a better figure tomorrow than we had tonight,” Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country holds the EU presidency until the end of the year, told a news conference late on Thursday.

“Over half the member states have made pledges and we will work through the night to see how far much further we can get and what countries can do in the form of voluntary contributions.”

Sitting next to him, EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso stressed that cash offered now would be money saved down the line.

“It is less expensive to protect the planet now than to repair it later,” he argued as Europe’s leaders headed for bed leaving officials to continue efforts to find €2 billion per year for the developing world between 2010 and 2012.

More medium and long-term funding will follow later.

Fast start contribution

The money being sought at the Brussels summit is specifically for a so-called “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.

Several wealthy EU states have announced significant contributions, but it is not yet clear what Germany, France and Eastern European nations are ready to contribute.

As the summit got under way, pledges had come in at a low bid of around €2 billion. The UK and Britain were the lead contributors, the UK weighing in at €883 million, and Sweden with €765 million, the BBC reported. The Netherlands followed with €300 million and Denmark, host to the Copenhagen climate talks, with €160 million.

The largest contributions came from Britain at 883m euros and Sweden – which currently holds the rotating EU presidency – at 765m euros. The Netherlands has pledged 300m euros and Denmark 160m.

The figures are totals spread over three years – 2010-2012.

President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek told EU leaders that “swift, binding, global decisions” were also needed on climate targets.

“I call upon you – put a figure on the table. We demanded this in the European Parliament resolution in November,” he during talks last night, according to European media.