What’s America’s fair share of climate fund? Sweden ups the ante

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UPDATED with comments from EU chief negotiator. Dec. 11, 2009 at 2:22 am

COPENHAGEN–European nations have stopped talking about paying their fair share and started putting money on the table for a fast-start emergency fund to help the world’s poorest nations adapt to the cleaner world economy likely to be proposed in Copenhagen.

As the U.S. ponders its promised fair share, a stunning pledge by Sweden threatens to make fair look dear.

Sweden announced it would offer eight billion kronor (about 765 million euros or $1.12 billion) over the first three years, the fast-start portion of the  fund, dwarfing Denmark’s earlier offer of 160 million euros ($236 million).

If fair share were based on how much each nation contributes to greenhouse gas pollution, the U.S. would have to pay more than $133 billion to match Sweden’s bet. That’s significantly higher than the total amount of public money that’s been projected for the fund–about $25 billion in the first three years.

Sweden’s move should please the financier George Soros, who on Thursday called the original European proposal insufficient.

It’s “more than nothing but not much more because of the magnitude of the problem,” Mr Soros said in an appearance at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen. “It’s not sufficient and it’s already becoming apparent that there’s a gap between the developed and developing worlds on this issue that could actually wreck the conference.”

Soros made an alternative proposal involving loans to poor nations backed by gold reserves held by the International Monetary Fund.

Under the European plan, the public money from the developed world would supplement money raised in the carbon market. The public money would only constitute about 20 percent of the total amount.

“When spending public money we are going to emphasize the least developed countries,” said Anders Turesson, the European Union’s chief climate negotiator. Developing nations that are experiencing more growth will derive more funding from the carbon market.

Sweden is responsible for about 65 million metric tons of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere each year, according to 2007 figures. Denmark, about 67 million metric tons. The U.S. is responsible for 7,282.4 million metric tons.

The United Kingdom, responsible for 637 million metric tons of pollution, has offered 800 million pounds (300 million euros or $1.3 billion).

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