Grants Will Continue, Assures EU Diplomat

The European Union has dismissed a Fiji Times report that it was pushing for climate change grants to be treated as loans. The EU Ambassador for the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs,
05 Dec 2015 14:32
Grants Will Continue, Assures EU Diplomat
Ana Maria Mora, Counsellor at Spain Embassy (from left) EU Ambasssador to Pacific Andrew Jacobs with France Embassy First Counsellor Jules Irrmann in Suva yesterday.

The European Union has dismissed a Fiji Times report that it was pushing for climate change grants to be treated as loans.

The EU Ambassador for the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs, told a press conference yesterday: “I do want to make it clear that as far as the vulnerable and resilient countries in the Pacific are concerned, grants will continue to be by far the favoured means of providing assistance.

“We are very aware of the needs of our partner countries in terms of financing. We  are very aware of the difficulties that some of the least developed countries have in servicing loans and we are not about to start imposing conditions on them in terms of lending the money, requesting interest rates in return.

“There is a place for loans in climate change financing but I think those loans are used much for infrastructure projects and we are keen to use as much as we can grant money to leverage loans.

“I think it’s been a very good example here in Fiji recently with the 60 million Euro  grant coming from Green Climate Fund as for the Suva water treatment plant and that grant money is been used to leverage loans to bring in more money from lenders such as Asian Development Bank and from the European Investment Bank.

“So loans do have a role to play particularly in infrastructure projects, in projects which are going to earn money over time.”

He said the EU was extremely concerned about any introduction of loans and “certainly from our side it’s not going to happen.”

He said there were some key issues in relation to climate change financing in the Pacific.

“The funds do need to be predictable and they do need to be accessible. I think we have been concerned as I know Pacific leaders have also been concerned at the complicated nature sometimes of getting hold of climate change grants.

“So we are working very closely with our Pacific partners not only at the negotiating table but for a long time we have been providing considerable support for the Pacific countries in terms of climate change related funds things such as adaptation and mitigation.

“At the moment we have around 250 million Euros so around 550 million Fijian dollars in projects around the Pacific focusing on climate change mitigation focusing on renewable energy and focusing on the key which will make Pacific countries even more resilient to the negative effects of climate change.”

He said all that money was in the form of grants. He added that none of the funds had been provided through loans.

“EU is very much proud and happy to work hand in hand with the Pacific Island countries in seeking to get deal that we need in Paris,” he said.

One of the messages that they had keen to get across in Europe was that climate change was not some distant brat.

“It is a brat which people in the Pacific are facing daily. It’s a threat to livelihood, threat to the existence and survival of some of the Pacific Countries as we know and that is why we will continue to work with the Pacific in the negotiation in the Paris.”

Jules Irrmann, First counsellor in the French Embassy in Suva, said they were  happy with the progress of the talks so far.

“I think it’s a great success, 150 Head of State and Government came for this first day and did strong statement that shows the real political willingness of having an agreement and of doing this COP success. It was the first time in the history of the climate change negotiations that COP begun with the states and that’s so many Head of Sate came in one roof.”

British High Commissioner to Fiji Roderick Drummond said the overall pledge in terms of climate finance was to be announced late yesterday “which will make clear that a US$100 billion on climate finance is there under the commitment from all of us.

“There are also supporting initiatives to help us get the final deals but the guts of it is difficult negotiation and we are fully engage and we are determine to get the right result at the end of it.”


Salute for leaders 

Mr Drummond, Mr Irrmann, Mr Jacobs and Ana Maria Mora, Suva-based counsellor for Spain’s Embassy, saluted the roles played by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and other Pacific leaders in helping get COP21 off to a strong political start and also for rolling their sleeves up in getting involved in detailed  negotiations.

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