COPENHAGEN: Developing nations at the UN climate conference rejected as “insignificant on Friday an EU pledge of ?7.2 billion ($10.6 billion) to help them tackle global warming.
As Saturday protests in Copenhagen drew tens of thousands of demonstrators, EU leaders agreed the funding – to be paid out over three years – at a summit in Brussels.
The accord came a week before 110 heads of state and government convene in Copenhagen for the finale of the 12-day conference aimed at hammering out a new deal on curbing greenhouse gases.
“The fact that Europe is going to put a figure on the table will, I think, be hugely encouraging to the process, said UN climate chief Yvo de Boer. “We will then have to see what other rich countries are going to put on the table.
Every one of the 27 EU member states will contribute, with Britain giving up £1.2 billion ($2 billion).
But in Copenhagen, the Group of 77 developing nations – actually a caucus of 130 states that includes China – said the proposal fails to address the issue of setting up long-term financing mechanisms.
“I believe they are not only insignificant, they actually breed even more distrust on the intentions of European leaders on climate change, said Lumumba Stanislaus Dia-Ping of Sudan.
“Our view is that European leaders are acting as if they were climate skeptics, he said. “Fundamentally, they are saying this problem does not exist and therefore they are providing no finance whatsoever.
Danish police meanwhile rounded up dozens of anti-capitalist demonstrators and beefed up security at Denmark’s land and sea borders to prevent troublemakers from entering the country.
Helicopters buzzed in the skies while armored police vans and canine squads patrolled the streets, amid fears Saturday’s march through the Danish capital could be joined by violent far-left groups.
It looks like a military zone, the police are everywhere, said Gerardo Gambirazio, an American geography researcher who was checking out the goings-on in the city.
The EU proposal, and the backlash it generated, came as the first official draft of a potential Copenhagen agreement emerged – only for the United States to reject a key section as unbalanced.
Besides setting a target for limiting global warming, the seven-page blueprint calls for a second commitment period under the Kyoto protocol, which runs out in 2012 without ever having been ratified by the United States.
One key part reads: Parties shall cooperate to avoid dangerous climate change, in keeping with the ultimate objective of the Convention, recognizing [the broad scientific view] that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed [2 C] [1.5 C].
The lower target is embraced by small island states and many African nations badly threatened by climate change, while the higher target has been supported by rich nations and emerging giants such as China, India and Brazil.
But while the draft is constructive in many ways, it fails to press the up-and-coming powers hard enough to slash their carbon output, chief US negotiator Todd Stern told reporters.
On that point, he added, the text is unbalanced.
If we are talking about the need to keep the temperature increase below 2.0 C (3.6 F) rise… you can t even have that discussion if the major developing countries are not taking a major role, Stern told reporters.
The United States is not going to do a deal without major developing countries stepping up, he added.
The draft text also leaves open three possible targets for an overall reduction of global carbon emissions by 2020, compared with 1990 levels – by 50 percent, by 80 percent and by 95 percent.
Industrialized countries favor the 50 percent goal, but major emerging economies led by China balk at any such target unless it is made clear that rich countries will assume the near totality of the burden.
The US Congress has yet to pass a comprehensive plan on climate change but it is taking action on one front – ordering an in-depth carbon audit of the tax code which some fear offers Americans incentives to be polluters.
Representative Earl Blumenauer said the audit was a small but significant sign the United States is serious about climate change.