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. Africa, backed by EU, tables 100b climate fund
COPENHAGEN, Dec 17 (AFP) Dec 17, 2009
The African group of nations, backed by the European Union, tabled a plan at UN climate talks Wednesday for rich countries to help developing ones cope with global warming and green their economies.

Put forward by Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi, who heads the group, the proposal calls for a three-year, 30 billion dollars "fast-start" fund starting in 2010.

This would progress to 50 billion dollars annually in 2015, and 100 billion within a decade.

The latter figure is well below the 400 billion dollars -- one percent of the GDP of rich countries -- called for by the G77 group of 130 developing nations.

But it matches the amount EU leaders have said developing countries would need each, potentially laying the ground for agreement on long-term funding.

"I know my proposal will disappoint those Africans who, from the point of view of justice, have asked for full compensation of the damage done to our development prospects," Meles told a ministerial meeting of the 194-nation UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

"Because we have more to lose than others, we have to be prepared to be flexible," he said.

How much money poor nations need to adapt to rising seas, droughts and floods, and to reduce their carbon emissions, is one of the most critical -- and up to now contentious -- issues blocking the troubled talks.

Separately on Wednesday, Japan said it would offer 1.75 trillion yen (19.5 billion dollars at current exchange rates) for the three-year fund, giving a boost to the Copenhagen process less than two days before some 120 world leaders convene in an attempt to seal a planet-saving deal.

Europe has previously said it would cough up 7.2 billion euros (10.6 billion dollars), while the United States has said only that it will pay a "fair share."

For the short-term financing, Meles suggested that a trust fund administered by donor and recipient nations manage the money, and that 40 percent be earmarked for Africa.

At least half the long-term fund should be allocated for adaptation in "vulnerable and poor countries and regions such as Africa and the small island states," he said.

The fund, he added, could be financed through "creative financing mechanisms" such as a carbon tax, the global auction of emission rights, or a tax on commercial air traffic and shipping.

Greenpeace welcomed the announcement, saying it "injected hope into the stalling Copenhagen negotiations."

"Support from the EU for this African proposal clearly increases pressure on US President Obama to recognise the need for long-term funding," said the green group's EU policy director Joris den Balnken.

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