Towards a new global deal on climate change

Posted: 29 January 2009

Rich nations had to raise 175bn euros (£162bn; $321bn) by 2020 for clean technologies, the European Commission said in a paper outlining its position ahead of international climate talks in Copenhagen in December. More than half that amount will be needed in developing countries like China and India.

The EU and the United States should help defray the costs of reducing greenhouse gases emitted by developing nations.

Oil refinery
Oil refinery
Oil refinery in Teesport, England, emits greenhouse gases during the refining process and more emissions enter the atmosphere when the petroleum products are burned for power.Ian Britton/FreeFoto
The paper - Towards a comprehensive climate change agreement in Copenhagen - presents various options for increasing international funding - including requiring countries to contribute according to their income and level of emissions. Another option would be to auction some emission allowances on a carbon market.

In return, all developing nations - except the very poorest - should limit growth in emissions by adopting development strategies that produce fewer greenhouse gases, including the curbing of tropical deforestation.

These new European proposals contain "some rhetoric in the right direction" but need to put forward more concrete commitments and accept a larger role in helping developing nations reduce their emissions and adapt to climate impacts, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Reclaiming Europe's reputation

"Europe needs to stop anticipating what the rest of the world might do and concentrate on what Europe should do if it wants to reclaim the reputation of leading in the fight against climate change," said Kim Carstensen, leader of WWF's New Global Deal on Climate initiative.

"Europe's starting points have to be its own stated objective of a world staying below the average 2°C warming that is the threshold level for unacceptable risks, and the 25-40 per cent cuts in emissions by 2020 that developed countries need to achieve to stay within this margin of safety."

WWF said Europe needed to go beyond restoring previous commitments to reduce emissions by 30 per cent over 1990 levels by 2020, and commit to achieving these reductions in emissions in Europe - with funds to be provided to developing nations for them to achieve emissions reductions equivalent to a further 15 per cent of Europe's level of emissions.

In another response, John Bowis MEP, Conservative environment spokesman in the European Parliament, said:

"We now have an unparalleled opportunity to secure an ambitious global agreement on reducing emissions. The European Commission is right to point out that a fully-functioning carbon market must be extended to other developed nations if it is to be fully effective.

"The Obama administration must now be courted by Europe's leaders to ensure we present a united front at Copenhagen.

"The battle of words between Europe and the US over climate change is now over; the battle for the planet must now begin."