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  • EU climate proposal 'unrealistic'


[CAPE TOWN] An EU proposal to scale up climate change mitigation and adaptation funding for developing countries places unrealistic spending demands on poor countries, an African climate negotiator has said.

The proposal, unveiled by the European Commission on 10 September, estimates that the cost of dealing with climate change in poor countries will reach €100 billion (around US$146 billion) by 2020.

Developed country governments would contribute US$32–73 billion of this annually, with the EU committing US$3–22 billion — the final figures contingent on the quality of the climate deal reached in Copenhagen in December.

The rest would come from developing countries themselves contributing 20–40 per cent of the total and from international carbon markets, which the commission says could be worth up to US$56 billion per year.

Unveiling the proposal, EU Commission president José Manuel Barroso called the proposal "both ambitious and fair".

"I am determined that Europe will continue to provide a lead but developed and economically advanced developing countries must also make a contribution," he said.

But the suggestion that poor countries may have to meet 40 per cent of their climate change costs is "a big joke", says William Kojo Agyemang-Bonsu from Ghana's Environmental Protection Agency, who is a member of Africa's negotiating team for Copenhagen. 

The principle that poor countries must not suffer financially from the effects of climate change — which they say they have had a negligible role in causing — forms the foundation of the African negotiating position.

Africa's lead negotiator, Ethiopian president Meles Zenawi, said earlier this month that the continent was prepared to walk out of any deal that fails to satisfy its demands (see Africa's new climate leader outlines continent's stance).

But while Agyemang-Bonsu thinks Africa will not snub this "first offering" from the EU, the public financing component from rich countries would need to be "significantly stepped up" to win the continent's backing, he told SciDev.Net.

The requirements the proposal puts on both poor economies and global carbon markets are excessive, he said.

"With the recent global downturn, I see the carbon markets making only up to 10–15 per cent maximum. Public financing will be the main source of funds if they are to meet the principles of adequacy, predictability and stability," he said.

The EU proposal will be discussed this week on 24–25 September at a meeting in Pittsburgh, United States, of the G20, which brings together the finance ministers of the world's twenty major industrialised and developing countries. One question is whether other wealthy countries, not least the US, will support the EU proposal.

"If the US does not come along with significant contribution there will definitely be no deal in Copenhagen," says Agyemang-Bonsu.

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