EU's Cop26 strategy: Tell other countries to pay their fair share

Ministers want rich countries to donate more and fossil fuel subsidies to be diverted

Climate activists in the Dutch city of Rotterdam stage a protest against fossil fuels, which the EU wants to cut with reduced funding. AP
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The EU’s diplomats at Cop26 will seek to shift the financial burden of climate change away from Brussels by pushing other countries to find more money.

Helping the developing world to fend off environmental disaster will be a key objective of next month’s summit in Glasgow.

Under a negotiating mandate agreed on Tuesday, EU delegates will urge rich countries to donate more funds – touting the bloc’s own efforts as a benchmark.

They will call for governments around the world to free up money by cutting subsidies for fossil fuels and using carbon taxes to raise funds.

Despite the EU’s stance, some fossil fuel subsidies still exist within its borders. Brussels has criticised the billions of euros in support for oil, gas and coal.

The EU is a signatory to the Paris Agreement in its own right, meaning it must strive to limit global warming to 1.5°C, and will have its own representation in Glasgow.

The bloc’s 27 finance ministers agreed on their strategy for the summit at talks in Luxembourg on Tuesday.

"We have challenges coming from the climate transition – very hard challenges," said the EU's Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni.

EU finance ministers including Magdalena Andersson, the likely next prime minister of Sweden, met in Luxembourg on Tuesday. EPA

Delegates at Cop26 will tell other countries to “step up their own efforts to combat climate change to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement,” the document agreed by ministers said.

“Carbon pricing and phasing out environmentally harmful fossil fuel subsidies are key components of an enabling environment to shift financial flows towards climate-neutral and sustainable investments.”

The EU “commits to supporting developing countries in their own efforts,” said the document.

Brussels says it donates about €25 billion ($29bn) per year in climate funds to developing countries.

Missed target

Delegates will hold talks on a new funding goal for developing countries after an annual $100bn target promised in 2009 was not met.

EU ministers said the world needed to learn the lessons from that failure when they look to set a new target from 2025.

This should include “widening the array of instruments and funding sources, including through the mobilisation of private finance,” they said.

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, promised last month to increase the EU’s climate funding by €4bn.

She specifically mentioned the US as a country that needed to “step up”. Washington plans to double funding by 2024 from 2013-16 levels.

The EU signed the Paris Agreement separately to its 27 members. It wants the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions to be 55 per cent lower by 2030 than in 1990.

It set out plans in July for a green overhaul, which would effectively ban sales of petrol cars by 2035.

Europe’s environment ministers will set out their wider negotiating strategy, not limited to financial issues, on Wednesday.

They are expected to call on the 196 Paris Agreement signatories to come up with ambitious national policies to limit global warming.

EU leaders will attend a G20 summit on the eve of Cop26 where wealthy countries will be expected to set an example.

An Italian diplomat said on Monday that climate plans were triggering a “virtuous race to the top” but that more needed doing to meet Paris goals.

Updated: October 05, 2021, 4:14 PM