EU leaders are in Brussels over the next two days to discuss the cash needed to help developing countries tackle climate change. The EU hopes other developed nations will follow suit in plumping up cash to fund action against global warming.
AFP - EU leaders were close Thursday to reaching their target of six billion euros of fast aid to help developing nations cope with global warming and give a boost to the UN climate talks in Copenhagen.
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However, a security breach when Greenpeace activists disrupted the start of a two-day European Union summit in Brussels took the shine off progress on financing to fight global warming.
A dozen protesters, apparently wearing fake access badges, unfurled banners reading "EU Save Copenhagen," and shouted slogans as European leaders, including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, waited in line in official limousines at the entrance to the EU council building in Brussels.
In a statement sent to media, Greenpeace called on the European Union to unilaterally boost its pledge to raise emission reductions from 20 percent to 30 percent.
Dismayed organisers responsed to the group's stunt by stepping up security around the venue and even within the building, which is entered via strict airport-style controls.
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A sweep of the main chamber used for televised press conferences was being conducted in the run-up to a delayed night-time press conference.
The 27 assembled heads of state and government advanced towards their goal of collecting some six billion euros in pledges despite most European nations being unwilling to act without similar pledges, notably from the United States.
"I am asking for contributions from others to be able to put this together tonight," Swedish Prime Minister Frederik Reinfelt had said, despite widespread national belt tightening.
Several of the poorer central and eastern European nations also feel no compulsion to hand money to struggling nations elsewhere.
But with the summit talks still underway, three quarters of the sought-after aid had been promised by a dozen EU nations, an EU diplomat close to the issue said.
The largest contributions came from Britain (884 million euros) and Sweden itself (765 million euros) with smaller amounts promised by the likes of the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg and Finland.
The 'fast start' contribution is aimed at helping the developing world battle rising sea levels, deforestation, water shortages and other consequences of climate change between 2010-2012.
But not everyone was happy about the European Union offering large sums unilaterally.
"We're not going to hand over a blank cheque so that others can wriggle out of their responsibilities," said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
The aid question is a key issue in Copenhagen and while Europe prides itself on taking the lead in the battle against global warming, it would like the rest of the world to stay reasonably close.
European frustration showed when Reinfeldt berated the United States for not matching Europe's ambitions in the battle against global warming.
But top US negotiator in Copenhagen Todd Stern rejected the notion that the US or other developed countries owed "reparations" to the developing world.
EU figures published last week showed confirmed pledges from developed nations outside Europe would mean cuts of just 13 percent.
It also remained to be seen how much of the pledged money would be taken from existing development aid funds.
The European leaders were additionally seeking to overcome their differences over whether to deepen their promised greenhouse gas cuts from 20 percent to 30 percent from 1990 levels.
Britain, which is keen to encourage the other major polluters to do more, received support from French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The French leader told non-government groups in Paris that France was pushing for "one of the biggest possible commitments" by European countries, cuts of "up to 30 percent as soon as possible."
However, heavily coal-reliant Poland and others oppose deeper cuts, arguing that they still need to develop their economies and need more help to make the necessary ecological changes.
Date created : 2009-12-10