Washington, DC — The US and EU must together get international climate change negotiations back on track, said international agency Oxfam ahead of the EU-US Summit tomorrow.
President Obama is due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, European Commission President Jose Barroso, and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Tuesday to discuss climate change among other issues.
“This summit is the perfect chance for European leaders and President Obama to break the deadlock in negotiations” said Heather Coleman of Oxfam International. “With less than four weeks to go before Copenhagen, we cannot waste time on formalities. The world needs action.”
Real progress on climate finance is possible for the first time after European leaders, meeting in Brussels on Friday, outlined their proposal for how much public money should be made available to help poor countries tackle climate change. The lack of concrete figures on finance – a make or break issue in the talks – has stalled negotiations on climate finance for years.
“Poor communities around the world are on the front line of a climate crisis they did not create,” said Coleman. “Upwards of $150 billion a year of new money must be put on the table by wealthy countries — including the US and the EU — to help poor countries cope with the devastating impacts of climate change and reduce their emissions.”
Based on an analysis conducted by Oxfam of a fair share contribution to a global climate finance package based on responsibility for emissions responsibility and economic capability, the US and the EU must each provide at least $50 billion a year to developing countries to help them adapt to climate change impacts and pursue low-carbon futures. The money on the table from rich countries could make or break the global deal.
Oxfam repeated its warning that public climate financing flows to developing countries must be additional to existing aid commitments. “It would be scandalous to imagine poor countries being forced to choose between building flood defenses and building a hospital,” Coleman said.
At an important two-day summit in Brussels last week, the EU agreed that between €22-50 billion ($32-73 billion) is needed per year to help poor countries on the front line of climate change cope with its impacts and reduce their own emissions. The European Commission has indicated that the EU’s fair share of climate finance would be up to $15 billion ($22 billion) per year. This would fall far short of what is required – at best it is less than half the amount that is needed.
The situation is much less clear in the US as the US has not indicated the level of finance it believes is required, and a climate change bill still has to be passed in the US Congress.
“All eyes are now on the US to move decisively so it can go to Copenhagen as a global leader in the fight against climate change, not as a laggard,” said Coleman. “As both chambers of Congress come together to hear Chancellor Merkel’s address, they must also come together to pass an ambitious climate bill that gives President Obama the tools he needs to craft a deal in Copenhagen.”
The meetings are also taking place as international negotiators meet for the last time before Copenhagen in Barcelona, Spain. Oxfam called on the US to signal its commitment to the fight against climate change by upping its ambition on finance and emissions reductions, and for President Obama to personally get involved in the negotiations.
“We also hope President Obama will join thousands of negotiators and world leaders in Copenhagen in December to hammer out a global deal on climate change,” said Coleman. President Obama’s direct involvement in the negotiations is needed to shift the momentum towards a deal.”