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EU countries fail to agree on climate aid

The European Union's inability to agree on financial commitments for a global climate change accord jeopardizes any possible deal at the December U.N. conference in Copenhagen, top EU environment officials said Wednesday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The European Union's inability to agree on financial commitments for a global climate change accord jeopardizes any possible deal at the December U.N. conference in Copenhagen, top EU environment officials said Wednesday.

EU finance ministers failed to agree Tuesday on how much they should offer poor nations for their cooperation in trying to cut carbon emissions and how to spread the burden among the EU's 27 member states.

"We have quite frequently said 'no money, no deal'," Stavros Dimas, the EU's environmental chief said. "Without having money on the table in the negotiations in Copenhagen we shall not be able to reach an agreement."

The Copenhagen conference will seek to reach a new global climate change treaty to replace the United Nation's 1997 Kyoto Protocol on carbon dioxide emissions. The conference has been billed as a last chance to avoid catastrophic global warming whose impact would be felt for generations.

Wealthy nations are seeking broad controls on emissions from all countries in a new climate pact. But developing countries say industrialized nations should carry most of the burden, saying tough emissions limits on poor countries would likely hamper their economic growth.

Rich countries agree they should offer developing nations financial incentives to cut emissions, but disagree on the amounts.

According to the environmental group Greenpeace, the world's wealthy countries will have to pay at least $140 billion a year. Within the EU, there is a deep split between richer members and eastern European states, many of which are cash-strapped during the financial crisis.

"Signals such as this will be interpreted by developing countries as meaning that we have no real interest in Copenhagen," Germany's Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel told a ministerial meeting in Luxembourg.

But the EU has sought a leadership role on the issue for years, and its environment leaders insisted stinginess should not derail their intentions. After the finance minister's failure to agree, financing will now be tackled by a two-day summit of EU leaders in Brussels at the end of the month.

The bloc's environment ministers also called for the Copenhagen meeting to set targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from ships and airplanes.

They said that by 2020, nations around the world should reduce aviation emissions by 10 percent and shipping emissions by 20 percent, compared with 2005 levels.

Booming global trade and travel have sharply increased the amount of greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere by ships and planes.