EU to provide poor countries with financial help to solve climate problems

The world's poorest nations will get at least 50 million EUR(US$69 million) from the European Union to cope with more frequent storms, floods and drought linked to man-made climate change.

EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel said the funding for a new global climate change alliance was "only a startup" and he wanted EU nations to add their own money to the pot - warning that a lot more was needed to reduce poverty and save lives.

"Natural disasters are increasing," he said, citing 24.5 million EUR(US$34 million) in EU funds already given in the last two months to victims of hurricanes, floods and drought in Colombia, Caribbean, Kenya, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, North Korea, the Sudan as well as for the Peru earthquake.

The funds aim to help people prepare better for natural disasters by swapping know-how. It will pay for measures such as flood defences, reducing emissions from deforestation, helping poor countries set up programs that could cash in on rich nations' carbon offsets and making climate change a part of other development aid efforts.

"Obviously top priority will go to the least developed countries ...and these small island states but no-one is ruled out," Michel said.

The European Commission said the link between climate change and the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events has become clear in recent years.

"Seven of the ten deadliest disasters of the last 20 years have occurred between 2000 and 2006," it said.

The EU said it was setting up the worldwide partnership because it had "a leadership role in promoting international action to tackle climate change."

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Author`s name Angela Antonova