Climate differences set to weigh on EU summit
The very real risk of failure on climate change is worrying EU
leaders ahead of a summit starting Thursday, amid deep differences over
how to help poor nations fight global warming.
Financial aid from the 27 country EU and other rich, but major
polluting countries, to help developing nations confront the challenge
of global warming has become a key issue, six weeks before the world
climate summit in Denmark.
"We need to find a solution on financing, the internal
burden-sharing," Sweden's European Affairs Minister Cecilia Malmstroem
said Monday. "We need to do that very soon. I think our children cannot
wait for us to get the figures right."
Last week at preparations for talks among EU finance and
environmental ministers, European officials took a tilt at the problem
but matters are complicated by the economic crisis and budget concerns.
The EU is divided into three camps: those who are willing to commit
to funding led by Britain, a wait and see bloc headed by Germany, and
eastern European nations with Poland at their head who want to help
"based on their means", a diplomat said.
The two-day summit in Brussels looks like being tough because the
leaders may be forced to impose guidelines despite the differences, with
the risk that it will further divide them.
With their generosity curbed by economic concerns, it remains unclear
what leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel will think, as Berlin
prefers to wait for pledges from countries like China and the United
States before acting.
How much will Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk accept after his
finance minister ruled that "it's totally unacceptable that the poor
countries of Europe should help the rich countries of Europe to help the
poor countries in the rest of the world"?
"We will not agree to a mechanism which would lead to such a
completely unjust proposal," said Polish finance minister Jan Rostowski,
whose nation is highly dependent on green-house gas laden coal to
Poland, along with eight other central European countries, is also
refusing to contribute funds based on the amount of carbon-dioxide
emissions it produces, contrary to what the EU is asking of other major
The European Commission the bloc's executive body estimates that
poorer countries would need around 100 billion euros (149 billion
dollars) annually from 2020 to fight global warming.
The EU, it says, should pay two to 15 billion a year; a far cry from
the 35 billion euros that environmental organisations believe it should
A further five to seven billion euros is needed for start-up action
in those countries from 2010 to 2012.
"This is the most complicated issue, because it's all about trying to
find money in a very tight budgetary period," one negotiator said.
A draft document laying out the EU's common position on this key
issue is at the moment full of blank spaces where figures should be,
which does not augur well for the summit.
Under those circumstances, the group of countries which would rather
wait and see the biggest of the three blocsis well placed to win. AFP