EU Climate Change Strategy Aids Developing Nations

BRUSSELS, Belgium, March 18, 2003 (ENS) - The European Commission has adopted a strategy to help developing countries meet the challenges posed by climate change. In a communication document issued today, the Commission proposes a European Union action plan aimed at integrating climate change concerns into EU development cooperation activities.


Two years ago, the Dodota Sire region of Ethiopia provided enough food to feed its entire population. In 2002, drought struck. Ponds and rivers are drying up, turning pasture land into a giant dustbowl. (Photo courtesy World Food Programme)
"Climate change concerns must be addressed, and it can and should be done in a way that is coherent with the overarching objective of poverty reduction," the Commission says.

Four priorities are identified in the new strategy. First, the Commission intends to raise the policy profile of climate change, both among EU development policy makers and practitioners and in EU partner countries.

Next, the Commission will offer support to EU partner countries for adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels and water scarcity. Capacity development in EU partner countries is also part of the strategy.

The Commission will extend support to EU partner countries for mitigation of emissions of greenhouse gases that are responsible for climate change.

The strategy is aimed at supporting EU partner countries in the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol, which limits the emission of six greenhouse gases, has been ratified by over 100 countries, including the European Union and its member states as well as many developing countries. The protocol will enter into force once Russia has ratified the agreement.


Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom (Photo courtesy European Commission)
The strategy was issued with an associated action plan that translates the strategic recommendations into concrete actions while placing the emphasis on adaptation to climate change, capacity development and research.

"The developing countries are the most vulnerable to climate change and therefore deserve our full support in addressing this threat," said Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom.

"The Kyoto Protocol offers them opportunities to combine efforts to combat climate change with the objective of economic development through the Clean Development Mechanism, as well as additional funding for measures to reduce emissions, adapt to climate change and build capacity. Our strategy today shows that we are willing to go further by making climate change an important cross-cutting objective for our development cooperation policy."

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is one of three so-called "flexible mechanisms" under the Kyoto Protocol. Developing countries are to benefit from CDM projects, such as renewable energy generation facilities, funded by industrialized countries that result in "certified emission reductions." Industrialized countries may use these certified emission reductions to comply with their commitments under the protocol.

The mechanism allows emission reductions through investments in developing countries to be credited to the investor in an industrialized country, thereby providing an incentive for investments in developing countries.


EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Poul Nielson with Mali President Amadou Touaré in Mali, December 2002 during the commissioner's trip to Burkino Faso, Ghana and Mali. (Photo courtesy European Commission)
Commenting on the adoption of the new strategy, EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Poul Nielson said, "Climate change is as much a development problem as it is an environmental problem. Its adverse effects will disproportionately affect poorer countries with economies predominantly based on natural resources."

"What's more," said Nielson, "the ability of developing countries to adapt to climate change is undermined by a lack of financial resources, adequate technology and stable and effective institutions."

In the context of the Kyoto Protocol, three new funds will be created under the UN's Global Environment Facility to support climate related measures in the developing countries, and the EU and several other developed countries have pledged €450 million (US$478.6 million) per year by 2005 in additional support.

The Commission is committed to assisting developing countries in reconciling their legitimate needs for economic development with the protection of the environment and sustainable use of resources, Nielson said. "We believe the best way to do this is by addressing climate change concerns within EU development cooperation activities in complete coherence with the overarching objective of poverty reduction."

By means of today's communication, the Commission invites the European Parliament, member states, civil society and other stakeholders to "contribute to the formulation and implementation of a coherent and coordinated EU approach to climate change in the context of development cooperation."

Beyond development cooperation, the Commission says that addressing climate change concerns is an integral part of the EU strategy for sustainable development as expressed before, during and in the follow up to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.