Parliament calls for €30 billion in yearly climate aid

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After EU officials had hailed the prospect of the United States setting targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, the European Parliament yesterday (25 November) called for an ambitious, legally-binding agreement to be struck in Copenhagen and urged EU leaders to bring €30 billion in climate aid to the negotiating table.

Ten days before the global community converges in Copenhagen to reach an agreement on the essential elements of a comprehensive deal on climate change, MEPs adopted a resolution urging EU leaders to demonstrate political leadership to make the summit a success. 

“The EU can win a positive result in Copenhagen by putting its cards on the table now instead of playing poker with its negotiating position,” said Finnish Green MEP Satu Hassi after the vote in Parliament. 

In a resolution adopted by an overwhelming majority of 516 votes to 92, with 70 abstentions, MEPs said developed countries should “significantly” reduce CO2 emissions at the high end of the 25-40% range by 2020, while developing countries as a group should limit their emissions increase to 15-30%. 

“The EU has taken up a leadership position in the fight for climate protection and we want to keep it that way in Copenhagen. Therefore we need to stand by our offer: a 30% reduction of CO2 in 2020,” said German MEP Jo Leinen, the S&D chair of the environment committee. 

Following in the foosteps of EU leaders, the Parliament undersigned a proposal to come up with €5-7 billion of fast-start funding to help developing countries to adapt to global warming and mitigate climate change. 

Defying those who use the crisis as an argument for making minimal financial commitments, MEPs emphasise that an agreement in Copenhagen could stimulate a ‘Sustainable New Deal’ boosting economic growth, promoting environmentally sustainable technologies, reducing energy consumption and securing new jobs in both industrialised and developing countries. 

EU climate diplomacy to boost leadership

Encouraging the Union to speak with one voice, MEPs also urged the bloc to develop an external climate policy to maintain a leading role in the UN talks. It is not the first time that the Parliament has pushed for EU climate diplomacy. 

Earlier this year, MEPs called for the establishment of a “foreign policy on climate change,” drawing attention to the bloc’s climate targets at both EU and national diplomatic missions (EURACTIV 05/02/09

MEPs also underlined that international aviation and shipping should be integrated into an international agreement with the same binding targets as for other industry sectors and auctioning of at least 50% of the allowances. 

Nuclear energy boosts abstention vote

The Confederal Group of the European United Left / Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) abstained from voting on the resolution because the adopted text acknowledges nuclear energy as part of the EU’s energy mix in the medium term. “As a group we cannot allow the nuclear lobby to be the winners in Copenhagen,” MEP Bairbre de Brún said. 

Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout commented: "The EU still has time before Copenhagen to make an unconditional commitment to 30% emissions reductions by 2020. This kind of leadership would breathe life into flagging hopes for the summit," he said. 

"The Copenhagen summit can only be judged a success if it reaches a binding agreement in line with keeping global warming below the 2°C threshold. If the EU is to light the spark that achieves this success, it must step up its negotiating position before the talks begin," Eickhout added.

The global community is currently engaged in negotiations to agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. 

An agreement on a new treaty is set to be reached at the Copenhagen climate conference in December, but talks have stalled over developed countries' reluctance to commit to concrete financial aid for developing countries and the lack of a commitment to sufficient CO2 reduction targets.

At a summit on 30 October, EU heads of state and government stated that €100 billion a year would be needed by 2020 to fund efforts to cut emissions and adaptation to climate change in developing countries (EURACTIV 30/10/09). Between €22 and €50 billion a year would have to come from international public financing, but how much the EU will fork out depends on the outcome of Copenhagen, EU leaders said.

  • 10-11 Dec.: EU summit.
  • 7-18 Dec.: UN climate conference in Copenhagen.   

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