Environment

Early EU climate funds falling short of promises

18.05.10 @ 09:27

  1. By Leigh Phillips

BRUSSELS - The early commitments from the EU and its member states for funds to help the developing world deal with climate change are so far falling short of promises.

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According to a Council report on so-called fast-track financing due to be considered by EU finance ministers on Tuesday, while the EU is "on track" to meet its pledge of €2.4 billion in "climate finance" for 2010, based on the information provided by EU member states and the European Commission, the sum for confirmed pledges so far amounts to €2.24 billion.

"While a certain amount of EU fast start finance has already been programmed, a significant amount still needs to be allocated," the report, seen by EUobserver, concedes.

At last December's UN climate summit in Copenhagen, rich countries agreed to "mobilse" $100 billion in long-term climate financing by 2020, although the amount of new money coming from public funds would amount to between between €22 and €50 billion of this.

The World Bank for its part has suggested that the cost for developing countries to deal with climate change and reduce emissions will amount to some $400 billion annually by 2020.

But as a trust-building exercise before these larger sums were able to be put on-stream, they agreed to ‘fast-track' financing of $10 billion a year from 2010-2012, totalling $30 billion.

The EU was to pay its ‘fair share' of this, coming to €2.4 billion a year and totalling €7.2 billion over the three-year period.

The short-fall revealed in the document will frustrate many climate watchers, who are likely complain that if wealthy countries cannot sort out transfers on a smaller scale, it is unlikely they will be able to achieve the larger sums later on.

The report, a preliminary state-of-play on fast-track finance, was expected to explain how much money was being delivered and how.

However, the 11-page document is largely empty of such content. It names no member states and does not list what areas of work have been funded, other than to say what sort of projects should be focussed on in the future.

The report talks of "proposed key thematic areas", such as disaster risk reduction, increasing capacity for monitoring climate change, and low-carbon infrastructure "including co-operation on renewable energies and energy efficiency" and pilot projects involving emerging technologies.

There is also a strong emphasis on forest conservation as an area for investment, via the controversial Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) scheme, which has been sharply criticised by indigenous groups who fear it will result in large-scale evictions and loss of rights for local communities.

The document also recommends using fast-track funds to develop carbon reduction monitoring systems and mechanisms to generate further climate financing from private sources.

The report does however document the specifics of the European Commission's share of fast-track financing.

The EU executive has pledged a total of €150 million in additional funds covering the three-year period, with €50 million already mobilised for 2010. Half of the monies are flowing to "low-emission development and technology co-operation", and half for adaptation to climate change with a focus on least developed countries and small

island nations.

The report admits that concrete facts and numbers are missing, noting: "A comprehensive set of statistics for climate financing is clearly needed."

Development groups that have seen the report are underwhelmed.

"By not being fully transparent about its financing pledges, the EU is undermining trust with developing countries at a very delicate stage of the game," said Tim Gore, Oxfam's EU climate policy advisor.

The aid charity accuses the EU of "failing to give full details" on fast-track finance, with campaigners saying: "The EU is not being transparent enough. The report does not provide clarity on how much each EU member state will pay, on how much it will cover mitigation or adaptation projects, and critically, if this money will come on top of existing commitments ... for overseas aid."

"Neither is the EU revealing the degree to which funds will be disbursed bilaterally instead of through multilateral channels such as the United Nations."

For comparison, the EU as a whole committed €3 trillion in 2009 to bail out banks with guarantees or cash injections in the wake of the global financial crisis, according to the European Commission, and mobilised a half-a-trillion fund in the space of just 48 hours two weeks ago in an attempt to calm markets as a result of the eurozone debt crisis.

Following this initial document, the EU is to submit reports on implementation at the next UN climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, in December 2010 and afterward on an annual basis.