U.N. Official Urges EU to Aid Developing Nations on Climate

By | March 3, 2008

The European Union should speedily work out ways to help developing nations fight global warming to avert a “Catch 22” impasse that could brake action worldwide, the U.N.’s top climate change official said on Monday.

“This is a priority that all industrialized countries need to get moving on quickly,” Yvo de Boer told Reuters of a message he would give to EU environment ministers at a meeting in Brussels later on Monday.

About 190 nations agreed in Bali, Indonesia, in December to set, by the end of 2009, a global plan to fight climate change, widening the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol binding 37 industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gases until 2012. “As Bali indicated, we need some kind of real, measurable and verifiable additional flow of resources,” de Boer said.

Rich nations should step up aid to help the poor curb rising emissions of greenhouse gases. That in turn would encourage developing states to diversify their economies away from fossil fuels towards cleaner energies.

Commitment by developing nations, led by China and India, is in turn a condition for many rich nations, led by the United States which worries about a loss of jobs, to curb emissions. The United States is the only rich nation outside Kyoto.

“It’s becoming a bit of a Catch 22 — if you can’t generate the resources to engage developing countries…then it makes it difficult for the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia and then possibly the EU to move forwards,” he said. “Then things become difficult,” said de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Secretariat in Bonn.

FLOODS, HEATWAVES
The EU says it is a leader in fighting climate change that the U.N. Climate Panel says will bring more heat waves, floods, droughts and rising seas this century.

De Boer said promising ideas for new funding include auctioning rights to emit carbon dioxide in the EU and using some of the proceeds to help developing nations.

Another option was to increase a levy on a Kyoto project that allows rich nations to invest in cutting greenhouse gases in developing nations. And EU budgets for research and development could help curb climate change.

De Boer said he would tell EU ministers: “If you don’t generate the resources for developing countries then they won’t engage and it will be difficult for you to engage.”

He also urged French President Nicolas Sarkozy to complete an EU package of climate measures during the French EU presidency in the second half of 2008.

In January, the EU Commission outlined proposals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, raising use of renewable energy in power production to 20 percent and using 10 percent of biofuels in transport by 2020.

“It’s important that under the French presidency in the second half that the package is finalized so that it can go to (the European) parliament,” de Boer said. France and Germany last week said that the plan might jeopardize European jobs.

“The European Union has stepped into this with eyes wide open. And now it has to deliver” by sharing out the burden, de Boer said. “Signals about how the target is going to be achieved are important for (the EU’s) international credibility.”

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