Wednesday

27th Jan 2021

Cablegate: EU and US try to outwit poor countries on climate

  • Ms Hedegaard asked the US whether it would require any creative accounting to produce the necessary climate finance (Photo: Jakob Dall)

Alarmed by increasing co-ordination among emerging nations on the climate dossier, the EU and US agreed earlier this year to synchronise their own efforts, with talks focusing on use of aid to win over reluctant third countries, leaked US diplomatic cables have revealed.

Released by whistleblower site WikiLeaks over the weekend, one cable describes a meeting between Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change Jonathan Pershing and EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard on 11 February, during which Ms Hedegaard reportedly called for greater co-operation to counter the so-called Basic countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The two sides discussed the recently-agreed Copenhagen Accord, with the US official describing plans to get as many nations to sign up to the agreement as possible. He also said that promises by some major economies under the deal were "opaque."

According to the cable, Ms Hedegaard said China's submission was open to interpretation, adding that she did not have high expectations for COP 16 meeting in Mexico, currently now underway. As a result, it would be important to downplay expectations, she added.

As the two discussed strategies to win over support for the accord, Ms Hedegaard suggested the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis) countries "could be our best allies" given their need for financing.

The sensitive issue of 'fast-start' funding was also approached - $30 billion pledged by rich nations to help their poorer counterparts tackle the immediate effects of climate change. Ms Hedegaard reportedly asked whether the US would need to do any "creative accounting" to produce its slice of the promised money.

The issue of creative accounting raised considerable controversy last week when the EU outlined details of its own contribution, €7.2 billion between 2010 and 2012, in Cancun, with some questioning how much new money is contained in rich country pledges.

Development NGOs and poorer nations also turned on the EU when it emerged that loans rather than grants would make up roughly half of the union's contribution.

The cables suggest that earlier this year the EU had been largely considering grants. "$30 billion had been promised, it cannot be lent," Ms Hedegaard reportedly told the US official.

A separate cable describes wide-ranging discussions between deputy national security advisor for international economic affairs Michael Froman and over 25 senior EU officials, including Ms Hedegaard, in Brussels on 27 January.

The issue of tackling the Basic countries was again discussed during the earlier meeting, with Ms Hedegaard also outlining how Copenhagen left some disappointed by the UN process, but stressing it should not be ditched.

The Copenhagen Accord contained a lot of good points, she reportedly said, adding that it should not be wasted.

She hoped that the US noted the EU was muting its criticism of the US, to be constructive, says the cable.

EU's 2021 fishing quotas to exceed scientific advice

EU minister for fisheries have agreed on fishing opportunities for 2021, with provisional quotas for the fish stocks shared with the UK. However, experts warned that some of these quotas will lead to overfishing "with detrimental effects on fish populations".

MEPs push for limited 'right-to-repair' on consumer devices

The MEPs's report asked the EU Commission to "consider" labelling products and services according to their durability and estimated lifespan - but only to examine so-called "planned obsolescence." The parliament plenary will vote in November.

EU welcomes Japan's 2050 climate-neutrality pledge

EU leaders welcomed new Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga's pledge to achieve climate-neutrality by 2050 - a move that puts Tokyo's plans on the same timeline as Europe and a decade ahead of China.

Ministers back EU-wide 2050 climate goal, not by country

EU environment ministers reached on Friday a partial agreement on the bloc's climate law, pending a decision by EU leaders on the updated 2030 target. While none of the 27 EU countries rejected the bill, Bulgaria decided to abstain.

EU seeks to renovate 35 million buildings by 2030

The European Commission unveiled the EU's "renovation wave", aimed at doubling the renovation rate of existing buildings in the decade, and creating five new 'European Bauhaus' hubs across the EU, where architects and engineers can collaborate on green projects.

Livestream

Live: Join the Nordic climate debate 'Choosing Green'

Although the Covid-19 pandemic has stalled climate negotiations, work has not stopped. The 'Choosing Green' debate will address some of the most important and most complex key areas relating to the global green transition. Live on EUobserver from 10:00 (CET).

Green Deal

Timmermans 'disappointed' with ongoing CAP reform

For European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans, the Common Agricultural Policy has to answer to "higher expectations" on climate action, protection of biodiversity and environmental sustainability, while ensuring a fair income for all farmers.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Giuseppe Conte: scapegoat or Italy's most cunning politician?
  2. Borrell to meet Lavrov, while Navalny behind bars
  3. Too few central and eastern Europeans at top of EU
  4. Rift widens on 'returns' deadline in EU migration pact
  5. EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map
  6. Migrants in Bosnia: a disaster foretold on EU doorstep
  7. Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks
  8. Why Russia politics threaten European security

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us