Europe proposal aims to unclog global climate change talks

The EU offered up to $15 billion to aid developing countries cutting emissions and urged rich nations to contribute more.

In an effort to push global climate change talks forward, the European Union this week offered to $15 billion to aid developing countries cutting emissions, and got a mixed response.

Negotiations are in desperate need of a breakthrough. Three months from now, at a UN summit in Copenhagen, world leaders have an opportunity to hammer out a deal that will have lasting repercussions for the health of the planet.

But the deal is danger of falling apart, many experts warn, bogged down by a lack of global financing for curbing emissions, and by disagreements over how rich and poor countries should shoulder responsibility for cutting greenhouse emissions.

If talks goes well, the Copenhagen meeting in December will be a momentous occasion “to create a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which bound 37 industrial countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by 2012,” describes the Associated Press.

But for now, the world’s blueprint for addressing climate change is a mess. A draft treaty of a climate pact is an “unmanageable 200 pages long,” reports Reuters.

And many countries cannot agree on satisfactory levels of emission cuts, Reuters adds:

Brazil's Environment Minister Carlos Minc said a plan by U.S. President Barack Obama -- struggling to secure healthcare reforms before turning to climate -- to cut U.S. greenhouse emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020 was unacceptably weak.
"We don't accept that, it's very poor," he said, adding that the goal should be "closer to something beyond a 20 percent reduction". The U.S. 2020 goal is the weakest of any developed nation, but Obama promises a deep 80 percent cut by 2050.

Another key point of contention is funding. The Irish Times spells out the poor countries will need huge sums of cash to fend off the effects of greenhouse gas emissions:

By 2020, developing countries are likely to face annual costs of about [$146] billion in curbing their greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the potentially severe impacts of climate change…

But many large developing countries, particularly India and China, have refused to agree to emission cuts unless wealthy countries help pay the bill.

In a significant development, the European Union proposed a formula for that payout and challenged other wealthy nations to pony up more money, reports the Financial Times:

Stavros Dimas, the environment commissioner, set out the conditions as he unveiled the European Commission's long-awaited financing proposal, under which the EU would contribute between [$3bn] to [$21bn] per year to developing countries, including China, India and South Africa.
He also urged the US and other wealthy countries to suggest proposals of their own. "As I have said before: no money from developed nations - no deal in Copenhagen."

But environmental and other groups criticized the EU proposal, the AP reports:

[D]evelopment and environmental campaigners blasted the offer as insufficient because it assumes that poorer nations will bear most of the costs of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.
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