EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

Sir,

Regarding ‘EU summit seeks to avert ‘perfect storm’‘:

Rich countries cannot manage climate change alone, even if they reduce emissions to zero. To succeed will require significant contributions from developing countries, particularly the major emerging economies such as China and India.

Developing countries are the most vulnerable to climate risks, the least responsible for historic emissions, have the fewest resources to address the issue, and have a right to grow to reduce poverty and raise standards of living.

The reality is that an effective framework to tackle climate change will require significant transfer of funds, in the order of tens of billions of dollars per year, from developed to developing countries to help them reduce their emissions and to help them adapt to climate risks that are already real and are growing more serious by the day.

Let’s be clear. This is not about charity. Failure to secure an effective treaty will see much larger costs and risks. We know that the costs of unabated climate change are likely to be at least five times the costs of prevention and there will be additional social, human and health costs.

The risk of conflict will be raised as disputes arise over scarce resources, particularly water. As the glaciers melt in the Himalayas, on which over a billion people rely for fresh water, hundreds of millions of people will be looking for new homes. And rising crop failure and the resulting breakdown of social systems in the world’s poorest countries will increase the risk of ‘failed states’, incubating grounds for terrorists and other subversive groups. It is clear: an effective post-2012 climate change framework is squarely in our self-interest.

The EU made a promise at the UN negotiations in Poznan in December 2008 to deliver its vision of how a post-2012 agreement will be financed at the March Spring Council. The EU failed to agree a position and we are concerned that this situation will not change at the next European Council on 18-19 June.

The breaking of this promise undermines the EU’s position as a leader and further erodes the trust between developed and developing countries. We should not be treating this process like a tactical trade negotiation where everything can be agreed at the last minute.

The EU’s approach needs to be strategic, allowing time for developing countries to respond to positive signals and to win domestic political support for more ambitious negotiating positions. The later we put money on the table, the less time and incentive developing countries will have to prepare ambitious plans and the greater the risk of failure at Copenhagen.

As legislators from across the political spectrum and from a cross-section of member states, we urge EU heads of state and government to make commitments at the June Council to:

  • Publicly recognise the scale of the required transfer of funds from developed to developing economies to make a post-2012 climate change framework effective (we believe this to be at least 65-100 billion Euros per year in the period 2010-2020);
  • Accept the EU’s fair share of this total (according to the EU’s share of emissions);
  • Agree that the post-2012 framework should include a new climate finance mechanism with innovative funding sources and democratic governance, along the lines of the UNFCCC Adaptation Fund;
  • Declare that climate finance will be new and additional to existing Overseas Development Aid commitments and make an immediate commitment to additional funding for urgent adaptation needs;
  • Recognising the difficulties of committing to new funding at this time of economic hardship, begin an open and honest debate with the public about why this investment is necessary to secure our future security and prosperity.

Finally, we reiterate that we are personally committed to building support for an ambitious post-2012 climate change framework. Not just because it is morally the right thing to do, but because it is fundamentally in our own self interest.

List of signatories:

Anders Wijkman (MEP, Sweden, EPP, GLOBE EU president 2004 to 2009, vice-president of the Club of Rome)
Sirpa Pietikainen (MEP, Finland, EPP, interim GLOBE EU president).
Stephen Byers (MP, UK, Labour, president of GLOBE UK and GLOBE International).
Steen Gade (MP, Denmark, Green, president of the Environment Committee of the Danish Parliament, president of GLOBE Europe).
Michael Kauch (MP, Germany, Liberal, environment FPD spokesperson at the Bundestag, president of GLOBE Germany and vice-president of GLOBE Europe).
Thérèse Snoy (MP, Green, Belgium, Focal Point of GLOBE Europe at the Belgian Federal Parliament).
Hugo Alfonso Moran (MP, Socialist, Spain, environment spokesperson at the Spanish Congress, ‘Focal point’ of GLOBE Europe in Spain).
Roberto Della Seta (Senator, Socialist, Italy, Member of GLOBE Europe at the Italian Parliament).
Petra Bayr (MP, Socialist, Austria, focal point of GLOBE Europe in Austrian Parliament).
Boris van de Ham (MP, Liberal, NL, D-66 environment spokesperson at the Dutch Tweede Kamer, focal point of GLOBE Europe in The Netherlands).
Spyros Kouvelis (MP, socialist, Greece, environment spokesperson at the Hellenic Parliament, focal Point of GLOBE Europe in Greece).
Haluk Ozdalga (MP, EPP, Turkey, chairman of the environment committee of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, focal Point of GLOBE Europe in Turkey).

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