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EU leaders fail to agree on how much climate aid to give

By Aoife White
Associated Press / October 31, 2009

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BRUSSELS - European Union leaders failed to agree yesterday on how much to give poorer nations to counter the effects of a warming climate - squandering the last chance that global greenhouse gas talks in December will produce real results.

EU leaders pledged to pay their “fair share’’ into an annual global fund for developing nations - but didn’t say how much they would actually contribute. They say some $148 billion is needed and that up to half of that should come from governments around the world.

Environmentalists blasted the 27-nation bloc for failing to seize a crucial high ground that could press the world’s two largest polluters, the United States and China, toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions when a new climate change treaty is negotiated in Copenhagen less than six weeks away.

The money aims to encourage poor countries to use less energy, rely more on renewable power, and protect forests that can absorb significant amounts of carbon dioxide.

EU leaders said in a statement that all countries now need “to inject new momentum’’ into stalled talks on a pact to keep global temperature increases under 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Copenhagen summit is seen as a watershed moment for fighting climate change and for global cooperation, and for years the EU has challenged other powers - above all, the United States - to match Europe’s commitment.

With US negotiators hamstrung by Congress, which has yet to approve US emissions targets, poorer countries were hoping the EU would set the standard for other industrialized countries to match.

Europe’s strong rhetoric on the world stage is often hamstrung by the difficulty of striking any deal - especially on money - among 27 members.

The EU executive suggested in September that EU governments could give up to $22 billion a year from 2013 to 2020. EU leaders didn’t endorse that yesterday, saying they would continue to discuss how much to give.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe should contribute about a third to the global climate fund.