BRUSSELS The European Union agreed the basis of its financial contribution to a global climate change deal on Thursday, but environmentalists said more was needed to ensure success at global talks in Copenhagen in December.
Funding to help developing nations cope with climate change is seen as the key to winning their support in fighting a problem which they say was caused by rich, industrialized states.
"The main principles of contribution should be the ability to pay and the responsibility for emissions," said draft conclusions from the EU summit, which EU diplomats said had been approved without amendments.
"All countries, except the least developed, should contribute to the financing of the fight against climate change in developing countries," the draft added.
EU finance experts say poor countries will by 2020 need about 100 billion euros ($140 billion) each year to cut carbon dioxide emissions, and a further 20-50 billion euros to cope with the impact on the climate.
But they have not spelt out how much the EU could pay.
Such adaptation funding might help develop drought-resistant crops or find new sources of water as rising temperatures deplete the glaciers on which millions of people depend for summer meltwater.
LACK OF CLEAR COMMITMENTS
Environment group WWF criticized EU leaders for failing to put a figure on the table of how much it is prepared to donate or details of how to raise the funds.
Greenpeace campaigner Joris den Blanken said international preparations for the Copenhagen talks were deadlocked over the lack of clear financial commitments and called for more haste.
"If the EU doesn't take the first steps, then there will be no progress," he added.
The summit is intended mainly to focus on the economic crisis and financial regulation -- a situation that has repeatedly threatened to derail EU progress on fighting climate change.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen was upbeat.
"In a few months, I am confident we will reach a final decision on all aspects of financing," he told reporters.
Rasmussen, whose country hosts the Copenhagen talks, urged EU leaders to ensure they continue to play a lead role on climate change at a time when the United States was gaining momentum in tackling global warming.
"To let Europe drop behind would be a mistake," he said as he and other EU leaders met for the two-day summit in Brussels. "We should maintain leadership toward reaching an ambitious global climate agreement."