EU leaders agree to repay carbon debt but fail to put cash on the table

Press release - 20 March, 2009
European leaders agreed to raise money for developing countries to tackle climate change at the EU Spring Summit in Brussels today, but failed to put any money on the table to support their plans. Greenpeace believes the lack of concrete financial commitments does not bring the world any closer to a global climate deal at the end of this year.

"The EU is waiting for Godot. We have now wasted three months until the next EU Summit in June. The EU has agreed it must repay its carbon debt, but developing nations are going to think twice about joining a global climate agreement without concrete financial commitments from rich countries. You cannot start negotiating about who should contribute what to tackle climate change unless there is money on the table," said Joris den Blanken, Greenpeace EU climate and energy policy director.

The EU Spring Summit supported new climate financing schemes to raise funds to tackle climate change in the developing world. The schemes will generate funds for developing countries to promote clean energy, protect forests and cope with the unavoidable effects of climate change. However, EU leaders failed to mention how much public money rich countries should put forward to support these schemes.(1)

Greenpeace calls on EU governments to stop wasting precious time and to make use of the forthcoming EU ministerial meetings under the Czech presidency to agree on a concrete plan for climate financing for developing countries. Greenpeace also calls on the G20, meeting in London in early April, to put climate financing high on the agenda. G20 recommendations should feed into UN climate negotiations.

"EU leaders discussed quick-fix solutions to save failed banks, but spent little time on plans to bail out the planet. We will see runaway climate change within our lifetimes unless EU leaders support a long-term green economic recovery plan that also saves the climate," said Den Blanken.(2)

Conclusions on the security of energy supply:

EU leaders acknowledged the relevance of energy efficiency, renewable energy and improved infrastructure to ensure security of energy supply, including a 'North Sea and North West' offshore grid that could enable the integration of large amounts of renewable energy sources. But at the same time, the Summit encouraged the continued reliance on coal and, for countries which choose to do so, nuclear energy sources.

"We are at a crossroads and EU leaders are trying to take us in two directions at once. It's time to choose: stick with the past and continue our dependence on outdated, dirty technologies like coal and nuclear, or embrace the future, with a robust energy supply based on renewables, efficiency, smart power distribution and green jobs," said Frauke Thies, Greenpeace EU renewables policy campaigner.

Conclusions on the economic recovery plan

Other contacts: Joris den Blanken – Greenpeace EU climate and energy policy director
+32 (0)2 274 1919, +32 (0)476 961 375 (mobile)

Frauke Thies – Greenpeace EU renewables policy campaigner
+32 (0)2 274 1912, +32 (0)477 79 04 15 (mobile)

Mark Breddy – Greenpeace EU communications manager
+32 (0)2 274 1903, +32 (0)496 156 229 (mobile)

Notes: (1) Greenpeace calls on industrialised countries to make annual contributions by 2020 of at least €110 billion: at least €40 billion for clean energy investments, at least €30 billion for forest protection and at least €40 billion to help developing countries deal with the effects of climate change. European governments should contribute €35 billion a year, the equivalent of just €1.30 a week per European citizen.

(2) Greenpeace believes failing to reform the world’s fossil fuel-based energy system could cause a return to 2008 coal and crude oil prices. For oil alone this would cost the EU, the US and Japan a combined $800 billion per year (about half of the current total economic stimulus packages in these countries). The International Energy Agency (IEA) believes that the supply shortfalls that pushed oil prices into triple-digit territory in 2008 are far from resolved, and could lead to a new period of high prices (see: IEA, World Energy Outlook, 2008).