, BRUSSELS, Dec 11 – European Union nations have agreed to give 7.2 billion euros ($10.6 billion) to help developing nations tackle climate change, the Swedish EU presidency announced on Friday.
"The EU total is equal to 2.4 billion euros per year," over the next three years, with voluntary pledges coming in from all 27 EU member states, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said after a two-day EU summit in Brussels.
The \’fast start\’ money is Europe\’s contribution to helping the developing world to adapt to global warming over the next three years and to encourage the ongoing UN climate change conference in Copenhagen to do more.
"It was also possible through the night to get contributions from all 27 member states," and the European commission, Reinfeldt said, as the voluntary pledges topped the six billion euros target set by the Swedish EU presidency.
EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said he hoped other nations would now match the EU\’s ambitions.
British premier Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy also demanded that leaders in Copenhagen agree a treaty that would be "legally binding within six months," and issued a new target for a global reduction in deforestation which should reach 25 percent by 2015.
Brown raised recession-mired Britain\’s contribution to 1.2 billion pounds (1.3 billion euros) with Sarkozy all but matching the figure, meaning that between them Britain and France pledged 2.5 billion euros.
Downing Street said Britain would boost its contribution further "if others are equally ambitious in Copenhagen."
The British PM said a final Copenhagen deal must be consistent with a Group of 20 leaders\’ commitment to maintain global warming to a maximum of two degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial times.
Towards that end, the EU should commit to reduce its emissions by 30 percent by 2020, he added, although his peers in Brussels have said that should be conditional upon similar movement from other big polluters like China and the United States, which is not yet the case.
EU figures published last week showed confirmed pledges from developed nations outside Europe would mean carbon dioxide cuts of just 13 percent.
Sarkozy said the boost to Europe\’s financial pledge was important to "give credibility to rich countries\’ commitments towards African countries, which we need (to come on board) in order to get an ambitious deal."
"What\’s expensive is doing nothing," said Sarkozy. "What is costly is immobility, is failure."
The French leader said he and Brown will host a dozen African heads of state from the Congo basin on Wednesday "to tell them that we want to help them fight deforestation."
Environmental group Greenpeace gave the EU cash pledge a cautious welcome.
"Short term funding is necessary but there is a risk that this will be used to greenwash an outcome which is weak and doesn\’t have any structural needs-based funding. Climate change will not be beaten in three years," Greenpeace EU campaigner Joris den Blanken said.