12th May 2021

EU urged to give more climate money to world's poor

  • EU climate commissioner Canete in Paris (Photo: European Commission)

The European Union needs to offer more money to developing countries to help them reduce carbon emissions as well as to cope with climate change, environmental groups said at a press conference in Paris on Wednesday (9 December).

The heads of three green non-governmental organisations (NGOs) said the EU has to "come out of its comfort zone" and bring new alternatives to the negotiating table "if it wants to play a leadership role" at the Paris climate summit.

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"The EU will need to offer something to developing countries, including finance, and they will need to offer more than they have done," said Wendel Trio, head of Climate Action Network Europe, an umbrella of NGOs.

His colleague Mattias Soederberg of DanChurchAid, added "climate finance is crucial" for a deal in Paris.

Climate finance is one of the summit's sticking points.

It refers to money for developing countries to tackle the effects of climate change, and to help fund a transition towards an economy that relies less on fossil fuels, the main cause for the man-made rise in global temperatures.

The latest draft text of the Paris climate treaty, released on Wednesday afternoon, showed there is still much to discuss. The segment on finance had many brackets - which indicate that the content is still open.

The first sentence of article 6, for example, reads: "Developed country Parties shall provide [new,] [additional,] [adequate,] [predictable,] [accessible,] [sustained] and [scaled-up] financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation."

At the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen, the world's countries agreed that developed countries would provide $100 billion a year in climate finance from 2020.

However, how exactly this will be done remains an open question.

"The problem with climate finance is that there is no agreement on what it is," said Soederberg.

There is a dispute between rich and poor countries about how much has been raised so far.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which consists of mostly rich countries, recently said that $62 billion has already been raised.

But the figure is being disputed.

Developing countries say that the same money is being "double counted" as both development aid and climate finance.

"Climate money must be new and additional," noted Soederberg.

But according to Michael Jacobs, former climate adviser to UK's former PM Gordon Brown, the issue is "more or less impossible to resolve."

He summarised the position of the developing countries as: "You were meant to be giving us 0.7 percent of your national income as aid. Climate finance is over and above aid."

But developed countries will respond, in Jacobs' words: "Hang on, everything we will give you is going to be called aid ... If it is given to a least developed country, the OECD will call it aid."

"Anything counted by the OECD looks like it's biased," he added, noting that the issue is "half methodology, half politics."

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