Wednesday, 19 May 2010

EU report on climate change fast-track financing

The European Union is failing to give full details about its €7.2bn pledge for immediate climate finance needs in developing countries. This is the EU’s contribution to the $30bn committed by rich countries in Copenhagen to help poor countries curb their emissions and adapt to a changing climate over the next three years. EU finance ministers meeting on 18 May in Brussels were expected to endorse a progress report on whether and how this money is being delivered.

Oxfam warned the EU is not being transparent enough. The report does not provide clarity on how much each EU member state will pay, on how much it will cover mitigation or adaptation projects, and critically, if this money will come on top of existing commitments to provide 0.7% of national income for overseas aid. Neither is the EU revealing the degree to which funds will be disbursed bilaterally instead of through multilateral channels such as the United Nations, nor how the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people will benefit.

Leaders in Copenhagen agreed ‘fast-start’ finance would be “new and additional”. Oxfam says this means money for climate action in poor countries must come on top of rich countries’ commitment to provide 0.7% of their national income as overseas aid. However, the EU is still divided on how to interpret “additionality”, and it is not alone. The US claims that President Obama’s budget request for climate change finance in 2011 is $1.9bn, but from all appearances that includes double-counting of cash from commitments on food security made at last year's G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy.

Tim Gore, Oxfam International’s EU Climate Change Policy Advisor, said: “By not being fully transparent about its financing pledges, the EU is undermining trust with developing countries at a very delicate stage of the game. We need an open dialogue about how to guarantee that climate cash comes on top of money already committed for schools and hospitals. There’s no point trying to cover that up. The most important thing is to be honest about the challenges. If there are difficulties, it is better to be open. We expect the EU to address the current shortcomings in a full report later this year, which details how the money will be spent. In a global climate deal, annual reporting is a must”.

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