Europeans back select developing countries at climate talks

By Dipankar De Sarkar, IANS,

London: The Climate summit in Copenhagen is likely to be presented with an Ethiopian proposal backed by key European leaders that seeks to raise money by taxing different pots of big business, according to reports here Wednesday.

Support TwoCircles

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who has been shuttling between the capitals of Britain, France and Germany, is expected to propose a tax on airlines, shipping and the financial services industry – the so-called Tobin Tax.

Taken together, the Ethiopians estimate, the different taxes could fetch up to $50 billion a year from 2015 – money that would go into a pool aimed at helping developing countries fight climate change.

Meles is reported to have the backing of Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France.

Meles, who represents the Africa group of nations, met Brown in London Tuesday, and Brown said later his proposals represent a “framework within which developed and developing countries can work together”.

Brown Wednesday identified US President Barack Obama, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Merkel, Sarkozy, Meles and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as forming “a group of people who really want the agreement to happen” at Copenhagen.

However, Brown also backed the controversial carbon market as the solution to financing, telling the BBC, “A private carbon market where people can sell and buy will be the main way that we reduce carbon emissions.”

Britain backs a proposal by Norway and Mexico to raise $40 billion a year from 2013 through a mix of private and public sources, including government money and proceeds from the carbon market.

But poorer countries reject any proposals to rely on the volatile carbon market, arguing it would be an unreliable source of funds.

Equally, India, China, South Africa and Brazil have ruled out mandatory contributions to a climate fund.

Officials from those countries spoke out angrily Tuesday about being pressured to sign up to a deal dictated by rich countries.