Saturday, 25 July 2009

EU could provide billions for forests - report

Thu Jul 23, 2009

By Mia Shanley and Johan Ahlander

ARE, Sweden, July 23 (Reuters) - The European Union could provide up to 2.5 billion euros ($3.55 billion) a year to help poor nations protect tropical forests, the EU executive said in a report to ministers meeting in Sweden on Thursday.

The European Commission report will be discussed at the meeting of EU energy and environment ministers in the mountain resort of Are. The talks will also tackle energy efficiency and preparations for global climate talks in Copenhagen in December.

Forests and finance for poor countries will be important issues at the Copenhagen talks, which are intended to find a successor from 2102 to the Kyoto protocol on limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

Many experts regard the talks as the last chance to prevent severe damage to the earth's atmosphere, but are encouraged by new signs of commitment from China and the United States.

Poor nations will need substantial funding to cut their own emissions and to adapt to the worst effects of climate change.

The European Commission discussed funding options for the Copenhagen talks, which Sweden has made a priority of its six-month presidency of the 27-nation EU.

"Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation represents a particular challenge," said the report, which was seen by Reuters.

It proposed taking some of the funds to protect forests from the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme, which makes industry pay for permits to emit CO2.

"If 5 percent of the auctioning revenue was used to contribute to global efforts to combat deforestation, 1.5 billion euros to 2.5 billion could be raised in 2020," it said.

Overall, the EU expects to be contributing about 30 billion euros annually by the same date to help poor nations adapt with measures such as developing drought-resistant crops or finding new water sources.

Those funds would help meet total funding needs of about $100 billion a year by 2020. Once funding is raised, the world faces challenges coordinating and delivering it to poor countries, the Commission report said.

"Undeveloped and fragmented governance has been identified as one of the challenges in delivering support," it said. "Existing mechanisms of delivery, including channels of aid delivery should be efficiently used and, if need be, strengthened before creating new mechanisms." (Reporting and writing by Pete Harrison; editing by James Jukwey)