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EU leaders rush to deliver funds on second day of UN talks

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-12-11

EU leaders in Brussels will try to deliver by Friday an initial six-billion-euro aid package to help developing countries tackle climate change. The EU hopes the gesture will push other developed nations to follow suit.

AFP - European leaders, bidding to increase pressure for a worldwide climate deal in Copenhagen, battled through the night to hammer down Friday a six-billion-euro aid package for poorer nations.

As the 194 nations meeting here seek to secure an agreement to curb heat-trapping carbon emissions, the question of who will pick up the tab has become one of the key hurdles on the path to a deal that would replace the Kyoto Protocol.

European Union nations have already proposed that 100 billion euros be made available to poorer nations annually by 2020 to tackle rising sea levels, deforestation, desertification and other problems associated with climate change.

However, after a first day of talks in Brussels on Thursday EU leaders were still short of an initial six billion euros they had hoped to pledge.


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Nevertheless EU leaders were confident they'll come up with the cash in a second day of talks on Friday.

"I believe Europe will today make an offer to push forward the Copenhagen talks," British Prime Minister Gordon 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 worked through the night to find two billion euros per year in so-called fast-start monies between 2010 and 2012.

More medium and long term funding will follow later.

The largest announced contributions came from Britain (884 million euros) and Sweden (765 million euros) with smaller amounts promised by the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, the Czech Republic and others.

France and Germany, however, were among those resisting calls to reveal the day's final tally.

The testy debate between rich and poor countries over who will pick up the tab for emission curbs has been compounded by a leaked draft agreement, derided by developing nations that say it favours the more advanced economies.

Across the Atlantic US lawmakers continued their vexed hunt to cobble together significant emissions cuts that would pass a Congress replete with climate skeptics.

President Barack Obama failed to push climate legislation through Congress in advance of the Copenhagen summit, but on Thursday a bipartisan group of senators proposed what they hoped would be the basis of a compromise.

The framework says the world's largest economy would cut carbon emissions by 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels, less ambitious than an earlier Senate bill but in line with Obama's proposals and a bill that squeaked through the House of Representatives in June.

In day four of the Copenhagen talks on Thursday, being held under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), blocs of countries pitched competing visions for a deal as the early arrival of environment ministers stoked pressure for an outcome.

Rival papers tabled by African countries, small island states, emerging giant economies and conference chair Denmark jockeyed for a place in a draft compromise.

They set down varying targets on curbing greenhouse gases that fuel global warming and funding for poor countries so that they can meet this potentially mortal threat.

The next step will be to hammer these texts into a workable blueprint for haggling next week.

Heated negotiations continued late Thursday, as France clashed with other EU nations over how to calculate carbon emissions absorbed and emitted by forests, a key component of a climate deal.

Divisions were also clear among poorer nations, with a row that has delayed work in key negotiation pools rumbling on.

Tuvalu -- population 10,000 -- pressed a demand that the conference discuss its idea that emerging giant economies be tied to binding emissions cuts under a new round of pledges under the Kyoto Protocol.

The proposal drives at the heart of a nearly two-decade-old axiom that only rich nations, and not poor ones, should commit to binding curbs on fossil-fuel pollution.

Underpinning Tuvalu's demand is that island states, and other highly vulnerable nations, could be devastated by warming inflicted by uncontrolled emissions from China, India and Brazil.

"For some countries we are talking about a total sinking," said Solomon Islands envoy Collin Beck, vice chairman of the 42-member Association of Small Island States (AOSIS)

Friction was also visible between China and the United States, the world's top two polluters, whose positions are central to any climate deal.

China said countries like the United States must pay out billions of dollars in compensation to poorer countries. A US official said China would not be at the top of any US list of countries receiving support.

But UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said the mood had improved since the start and that progress is being made.

Date created : 2009-12-11

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