EU climate approach puts world’s poorest people at peril

Europe is putting a global climate deal at risk and threatening the lives of millions of the world’s poorest, said development agency Oxfam International, as Environment Ministers met today to hammer out Europe’s position for a post-2012 global deal.

EU Environment Ministers have failed to live up to repeated promises to fight climate change. They have called on poor countries to curb their emissions, but have not put cash on the table to help them deal with the effects of the crisis or develop in a low carbon way.

Following a proposal from the European Commission in January, the EU will agree the key elements of its position for a global climate deal in Copenhagen at a Heads of State summit on 19-20 March in Brussels. Climate finance for developing countries, which is a make-or-break part of the deal, is supposed to be the main focus. But Member States have used the economic crisis as an excuse to further water down the Commission’s already weak plans on finance. Environment Ministers have admitted today the huge costs involved, but not agreed how the money will be raised globally, or what the EU will commit.

The lives and livelihoods of millions of poor people are at stake from worsening climate change, created by rich countries. Oxfam estimates that at least €40 billion a year is needed to help poor countries adapt to the impact of global warming – with the EU owing at least €12 billion. This is a fraction of the $3.3 trillion committed by the EU and the US to rescue financial institutions in 2008.

Katia Maia, head of Oxfam International’s Campaign and Advocacy Office in Brazil, said:

“The latest science shows the climate crisis is more urgent than ever but the EU is putting the brakes on efforts to address it. Europe is one of the world’s biggest polluters but it is doing as little as possible to help poor countries deal with the impacts of a crisis it helped create.”

“The EU needs to put money on the table now. Treating poor people's lives as a bargaining tool in climate negotiations is both immoral and misguided as a negotiating strategy.”

Elise Ford, head of Oxfam International’s EU office, said:

“It is now up to EU Finance Ministers and Heads of State to right these wrongs later this month. They must give strong backing for innovative finance mechanisms, so these are at the heart of Europe’s negotiating position for Copenhagen.”

"The excuse of waiting for the US to move first on climate finance is wrong-headed. As EU Commissioner Dimas pointed out, if the EU does not offer real cash, there may be no global deal. And, unless there is a clear EU commitment, there will be little external pressure for the US also to come forward -- as it must."

“We expect Europe to be setting the standards on climate finance, but instead it’s trying to lead from behind."

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