BRUSSELS, Belgium, December 11, 2009 (ENS) – European leaders have pledged a total of 7.2 billion euros (US$10.5bn) over the next three years to help poorer nations cope with global warming, hoping to boost support for an agreement at the ongoing United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen that will put the brakes on runaway climate change.

Today’s funding pledge, following all-night negotiations, came at the conclusion of a two-day meeting of the European Union Council of Ministers in Brussels.

It increases pressure on other major industrialized powers to come forward with comparable commitments. The aid would include funding to help protect coasts, preserve forests, modify crops and switch from fossil-fuel to low-carbon energy.

“I’m delighted that we have achieved an ambitious figure on fast-start financing that exceeds what could be expected from the European Union,” Said European Commission President Jose Barroso.

“We hope now that others will match our figures and ambitions,” Barroso said. “Finance is key to getting this deal done.”

The European Environmental Bureau, an coalition of 143 nongovernmental organizations in 31 countries, has called for fast-start financing of 5-7 bn euros each year for 2010-2012, to be made available immediately after the Copenhagen summit to the poorest countries to address their urgent adaptation needs.

The EEB is urging a contribution from Europe of at least 35bn euros a year by 2020 to go directly to developing countries for mitigation and adaptation support, in addition to regular development aid commitments.

Besides wrangling over curbs on greenhouse gas emissions, negotiators at the UN conference are struggling to decide who will foot the bill for climate adaptation projects in the developing world.

In Brussels today where they attended the EU Council meeting, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown agreed to work together for an “ambitious” outcome in Copenhagen.

“We are determined that Copenhagen agrees to put in place stronger global environmental governance,” they said, adding, “We will be doing all in our power to reach the ambitious and comprehensive global agreement the world needs.”

They expressed support for a deal that is “consistent with a maximum global warming of two degrees [Celsius], to which all parties contribute, and which enables the EU to reduce its emissions by 30 percent by 2020.”

The European Union has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and has said that it will go for a 30 percent target only if other nations make comparable commitments.

To date the commitments of other nations range from a 17 percent reduction below 2005 levels offered by the United States to a 25 percent cut offered by Japan and by Russia.

“To enable immediate implementation of the Copenhagen agreement we support the establishment of a ‘fast start’ launch fund for 2010-12 which achieves US$10 billion annually in 2012. A large amount of this should go to adaptation, especially in Africa, small island states and other poor and vulnerable countries,” Brown and Sarkozy said in a joint statement.

France and the UK will each contribute their fair share among the advanced economies – around 400 million euros (US$600 million dollars) a year, they said.

The UK is prepared to go further and contribute up to $800 million dollars a year in the light of offers from others.

The two leaders said that long term financial support needed to assist developing countries meet the costs of mitigation and adaptation is estimated at around 100 billion euros in 2020.

“To ensure predictable and additional finance in the medium term to 2020 and beyond, we should make use of innovative financing mechanisms, such as the use of revenues from a global financial transactions tax and the reduction of aviation and maritime emissions and the auctioning of national emissions permits. We will work together on this,” they said.

Brown and Sarkozy said they would like to see a Copenhagen deal that specifies a halt to deforestation in about 20 years. Scientists have said that deforestation is responsible for approximately 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“We believe around 20 percent of early finance should be allocated to forest protection,” the two leaders said, adding, “We want the Copenhagen agreement to agree a reduction in deforestation of 25 percent by 2015, leading to a 50 percent reduction in 2020 and a halt in 2030.”

“The developed world should pay for the majority of this, supporting developing countries’ own efforts,” they said.

“To this end we will work with developed countries and rainforest nations over the next few days to deliver an equitable and effective agreement on forest finance and governance,” said Brown and Sarkozy, who said they would jointly attend a conference of rainforest countries of the Congo Basin next week in Paris.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.