February 18, 2010 / 4:30 PM / 8 years ago

EU's Hedegaard to embark on climate diplomacy tour

* EU’s climate chief to visit key capitals for talks

* EU’s Barroso calls for urgent EU climate funding

By Pete Harrison

BRUSSELS, Feb 18 (Reuters) - The European Union’s new climate chief, Connie Hedegaard, will soon embark on a climate diplomacy tour to reinvigorate global negotiations after the weak outcome of talks in Copenhagen in December.

The U.N. talks ended with an accord to limit global temperature increases to within 2 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial temperatures, but had little legal clout and no combined vision for cutting climate-warming emissions.

Experts say the emissions cuts pledged alongside the accord set the world on track for a 3.5 degree rise in temperatures.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told EU leaders in a letter on Thursday the bloc needed to find a fresh approach to international climate politics.

"This is not the time for the EU to start doubting its commitments," he wrote. "We need the international process to continue, building on what we could agree in the Copenhagen Accord."

"I have therefore asked Connie Hedegaard, the commissioner for climate action, to undertake a consultation of key international partners to find ways to reinvigorate the international process," he added.

Hedegaard will visit a number of key capitals in the search for alliances including with Africa, China, Brazil, the United States and others, said a spokesman.

Barroso also urged European leaders not to forget their promise to urgently channel 7.3 billion euros ($9.9 billion) in "climate aid" to poor countries to help them cut emissions from industry and tackle climate impacts on crops.

The EU leaders agreed in December to hand out 2.43 billion euros a year from 2010-2012, to plug the gap until a global deal is struck the the years after 2013. But the Copenhagen talks failed to define channels to distribute that money.

"An important element in this strategy should be the implementation of the fast start financing," Barroso wrote.

"We should not forget that those who were working more closely with us in Copenhagen were the developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable."

Many European politicians favour more bilateral talks with Africa, after making rapid progress on funding last year when Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi visited Europe on behalf of African Union nations.

Zenawi’s deal, however, was savaged by Sudan, which finds itself torn between dealing with the climate threat and nurturing its fast-growing oil industry. (Editing by James Jukwey)

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