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Brussels (AFP) Dec 06, 2012
All European projects this year for the capture and storage of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas blamed for global warming, have fallen through, EU sources said Thursday.
The aim was for energy and other industrial facilities producing large amounts of CO2 to capture and then store the gas underground as part of efforts to limit climate change.
European Parliament member Chris Davis, of Britain's Liberal Democrat Party, had championed the CO2 capture/storage scheme and expressed deep disappointment at the latest development.
"Hopes of Europe becoming a world leader in the development of a key technology to combat global warming have been dashed," Davies said.
"More than 1.5 billion euros of EU funding available to support carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects will now be diverted to new renewable energy schemes," he said.
Earlier Thursday, the world's biggest steelmaker ArcelorMittal said it was withdrawing from the EU's Uclos project to install a CO2 capture/storage facility at its plant in Florange, France.
That move could prove highly controversial given the dispute between the French government and the company over the future of Florange where ArcelorMittal has closed capacity in the face of a global steel glut.
The ArcelorMittal announcement "means that not one single new CCS scheme is set to proceed," Davis said, adding it "marks a major failure by Europe to step up to the mark. We talk big about the need for action yet fail to deliver."
EU leaders agreed in 2007 to have 12 CCS demonstration projects in operation by 2015 as the bloc sought to take the lead in combatting climate change.
UN climate talks near finish line with no finance deal
The issue is key to the adoption of a package of plans by Friday for limiting climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions, as scientists warn that the world is headed for calamitous warming levels.
On Tuesday, the European Union and United States refused to commit to concrete, new climate funding for the 2013-2020 period, as poor nations and those most at risk from global warming insisted on seeing new numbers.
Pledges from individual countries did begin to trickle in, but the EU said tight finances prevented it taking on binding near-term commitments as a bloc, while Washington insisted it was already "doing what we agreed to do."
The talks in the Qatari capital are meant to extend the life of the Kyoto Protocol, the world's only binding pact on curbing Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions, whose first leg expires on December 31.
The Kyoto deal binds developed nations to emissions curbs, excluding major developing polluters such as China and India -- as well as the US which refused to ratify it.
In Doha, developed nations are also being asked to show how they intend to keep a promise to raise climate funding for poor countries to $100 billion per year by 2020 -- up from a total of $30 billion in 2010-2012.
Developing countries say they need at least another $60 billion (46 billion euros) between now and 2015 to deal with climate change-induced droughts, floods, rising seas and storms, and demanded to see new numbers.
But the EU negotiator Pete Betts said on Wednesday: "These are tough financial times in Europe... (and) we, as other developed countries, are not going to be in a position at this meeting to agree any kind of target for 2015."
The EU has since reiterated that there are long-standing post-2012 funding commitments on the table, amounting to some 6.85 billion euros, and several individual member states are expected to join Germany and Britain in making fresh pledges in Doha.
The United States' Jonathan Pershing, however, insisted Washington was "doing what we agreed to do and what we've committed to do" -- and this did not include pre-2020 funding.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged negotiators on Tuesday to put aside their differences in tackling the mounting global warming "crisis."
On Wednesday, negotiators nominated a minister from the Maldives and one from Switzerland -- representing both the rich and poor side of the finance divide -- to try to mediate a compromise.
Agreement on financing and a follow-up period for Kyoto should smooth the way to a new, universal climate pact that must be drafted by 2015 and come into effect by 2020.
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