Brown's opposition to climate change plea

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The Independent Online

Next month's crucial climate change conference in Copenhagen could be jeopardised by European wrangling over the cost of tackling global warming, Gordon Brown warned EU leaders.

He spoke amid fierce resistance among a majority of EU member states to his call for them to commit budgets now to help developing nations cope with climate change.

Opposition to his plea for the EU to give between €7bn (£6.2bn) and €10bn a year to emerging nations from 2020 is being led by Poland with the backing of eight eastern and central European countries. They insist the price is too high, not least because they face considerable expense dealing with emissions from their own smokestack industries.

Germany and France, meanwhile, say they support the intention of Mr Brown's plan, but argue that details of budgets have to be left until the global negotiations start on 8 December in Copenhagen. The arguments appear likely to dominate the formal agenda of the two-day EU summit that began in Brussels yesterday.

Mr Brown, who is being backed in the argument by the Netherlands and Denmark, told a press conference after arriving in Brussels: "The world needs a programme for climate change. Unless we have programmes for financing climate change then we will not get an agreement at Copenhagen.

"We want conclusions to show Europe showing leadership."

Mr Brown said Europe should make clear what it would contribute out of the estimated €100bn a year by 2020 the European Commission says will need to be found globally.

British officials said that the EU's share of that works out at between €30bn to €40bn (£6.2bn to £8.9bn) a year and the UK is ready to pay £1bn a year by 2020.

Mr Brown believes it will be difficult to persuade other countries to contribute towards the global fund unless the EU has taken a lead by stumping up the cash voluntarily.

Even if financing is not agreed, the summit conclusion will set out Europe's long-standing pledge to cut CO2 emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, compared with 1990 levels. That is a "unilateral" target the EU will stick to even if the rest of the world cannot agree to match it at Copenhagen.

A tougher EU target of cutting emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 is contingent on everyone else agreeing to do the same.

Europe's leaders will also confirm that emissions from planes and ships are included in the plan, with targets of cutting aviation emissions by 10 per cent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels, and 20 per cent cuts across the maritime sector.

The EU will also challenge the rest of the world to set a long-term target of cutting overall carbon emissions by 80-95 per cent by 2050 compared to 1990.