The French connection on adaptation

9 December 2009

The French Minister for Sustainable Development, Jean-Louis Borloo, made a strong statement last Monday on helping the most vulnerable countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. He proposed a Climate Justice Fund of US$600 billion to be spent at a rate of US$60 billion per year for ten years, or US$30 billion per year for 20 years. This would be in addition to the €100 billion per year by 2020 that European Union (EU)leaders recommended last October.

He made it clear carbon markets and the private sector were not options to deliver on adaptation. Instead, options such as a tax on financial transactions and bunker fuels were favoured by the French government.

While this proposal is welcome, Borloo’s plan is unfortunately not clearly defined with few links to the official European or UNFCCC processes.  And while the numbers look ambitious, Borloo needs to clarify whether these funds would be additional to Official Development Assistance (ODA) targets.

The announcement clearly took his European colleagues by surprise. It remains to be seen if the EU summit starting on Thursday will endorse France’s ambition on long-term finance and help the EU to come up with a stronger proposal in time for the Copenhagen end-game negotiations. Climate Action Network has called for developed countries to contribute at least US$195 billion per year by 2020 ($95 billion per year to reduce emissions, and $100 billion per year to adapt to climate change impacts).  ECO urges President Nicolas Sarkozy to announce France’s pledge on finance and to take the lead on this issue.

ECO would like to see more coherent work from France. While Borloo clearly affirms that France is pushing to move up to a 30% emissions reduction target, it is worth noting that France, Poland and Germany were the main stumbling blocks on this issue during the preparation for the EU Council meeting. While Borloo said that France will achieve its target mainly at the domestic level, there is however no concrete progress on this item in Brussels. Is it a case of two European cities, two messages?

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