- Title: SWEDEN: EU approaches final talks on financing climate
- Date: 3rd October 2009
- Summary: GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN (OCTOBER 2, 2009) (REUTERS) EUROPEAN UNION FLAGS EXTERIOR OF MEETING VENUE
- Embargoed: 18th October 2009 13:00
- Location: Sweden
- Country: Sweden
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA58HD7KYZR23F092BQ8EV1MDE7
- Story Text: European Union finance ministers on Friday (October 2) moved closer to an agreement on how to finance climate change measures.
The ministers were discussing some key elements of a possible deal at their informal meeting in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, including plans for rich countries to pay poor ones so they cut emissions of greenhouse gases.
Finance has emerged as the main stumbling block to a global climate agreement that would replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
Poland, among others have been opposed to current proposals to help financially poor countries to cut emissions.
Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, has expressed his disappointment that the negotiations have been moving so slowly.
But at a news conference after a meeting that focused on the climate, Borg said there was progress on the issue of burden sharing.
"We have a strong voice from all the countries saying that Europe should be taking the leadership and pushing the issue. But obviously there has to be negotiations on burden sharing eventually and I think we've seen convergence on that and I think we see very promising progress and eventually we'll have to find a compromise that will satisfy everybody," he said.
The European Commissioner responsible for economic and monetary affairs, Joaquin Almunia also said the talks on burden sharing within the bloc had been more positive than before.
"The part of the discussion that has been focused on the internal burden sharing among the EU member states has been much more positive than our previous experiences before this summer," he said.
There have also been discussions of a EU-wide carbon tax.
"The introduction of a new tax in the European Union has never been easy. And particularly it's not easy at a time of the financial and economic crisis. But it is evident that the climate change is an even more disastrous global challenge than the current financial and economic crisis. It's a question of life and death for the population of the globe," said European Commissioner for taxation and Customs Union Laszlo Kovacs.
But despite pressure from other ministers, Poland stuck to its guns in opposing proposals to help poor countries to cut emissions.
Poland is worried the EU's contribution could be based on member states' CO2 emission levels, which could prove costly for the country that depends heavily on coal for power generation.
"If the whole principle is, of this help for the poorer countries, that the rich should help the poor then it seems elementary logic that in that help, the poor within Europe should not be making a bigger contribution than the rich," Polish Finance Minister Jan Rostowski said.
The ministers were trying to bridge their differences ahead of a possible final debate that will take place at their next meeting in Luxembourg on October 19-20.
The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, has proposed that the 27-nation bloc pay poor countries up to 15 billion euros (21.8 billion United States dollars) a year by 2020 to persuade them to help battle climate change.
Some EU countries are impatient with Poland, fearing the bloc's lack of resolution undermined its position in global negotiations, some diplomats say.
"We have to work really hard and put as much pressure as we can because the clock is ticking, number one, and the finance ministers have to get involved, we're talking finance, we're talking measuring and there is about time that there is joint effort," said the French minister of Economy, Industry and Employment, Christine Lagarde when asked about a possible carbon dioxide tax.
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