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5th Jul 2020

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).

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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.

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