From Frank McDonald - Irish Times Friday September 11th

European Commission blueprint on climate aid

THE EUROPEAN Commission yesterday put forward a blueprint for increasing international aid to help developing countries combat global warming, with an eye to concluding an ambitious global deal at December’s UN climate change summit in Copenhagen.

By 2020, developing countries are likely to face annual costs of about €100 billion in curbing their greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the potentially severe impacts of climate change, and up to half of this sum would be contributed by developed countries.

The commission has proposed that EU member states, other developed countries and the “economically more advanced” developing countries, such as China, should provide this public financing in line with their responsibility for emissions and ability to pay. Commission president José Manuel Barroso estimated that the cost to the EU would range between €2 billion and €15 billion a year, depending on the scale of the Copenhagen deal, and said this was “the first meaningful proposal” on aid to be tabled so far.

Environment commissioner Stavros Dimas described it as “a balanced blueprint for financing the necessary action by developing countries” to limit the growth in emissions as well as to adapt to the impacts of climate change, such as more frequent storms.

Three main sources of finance are expected to play a role in meeting these needs: domestic public and private finance in developing countries could cover 20-40 per cent, the international carbon market about 40 per cent and the remainder from international public finance.

The commission estimates that an expanded international carbon market could generate financial flows to developing countries of as much as €38 billion a year by 2020. “The more ambitious the carbon market is, the less need there will be for international finance”. Assuming a satisfactory Copenhagen deal, it proposed that a “fast start” should be made to international public funding for developing countries, with some €5-7 billion a year in aid likely from 2010 to 2012 – of which the EU would contribute up to €2 billion.

However, Oxfam International warned that the EU’s offer could divert money already promised in international aid to poorer countries. “This would rob tomorrow’s hospitals and schools in developing countries to pay for them to tackle climate change today,” a spokeswoman said.

“This is scandalous, especially given Europe’s responsibility as one of the world’s biggest polluters,” said Elise Ford, head of Oxfam International’s EU office.