Warning talks could unravel over heated issue of finance for poorer states
Finance for developing countries to adapt to the impacts of global warming and play their part in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions is the issue that will make or break the UN’s 18th climate change conference in Doha.
Tim Gore of Oxfam International warned yesterday the talks could unravel if poorer countries were not given assurances that their richer counterparts would continue to provide significant financial aid for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Although pledges from Britain and Germany to provide, respectively, $2.2 billion (€1.7 billion) over three years and $1.8 billion next year alone, have been widely welcomed as confidence-building measures, the US and others have made no new aid pledges to developing countries.
“This is a burning issue and it has to be sorted as soon as possible,” said Matthias Groote, head of the European Parliament’s delegation here. “The economic crisis must not be used as a pretext to avoid financing climate measures in developing countries.”
‘Anxiety and confusion’
With the current round of $30 billion in “fast-start” financing – first pledged at the 2009 Copenhagen summit – due to run out at the end of this month, poor countries are demanding to know how the target of $100 billion a year in aid by 2020 is to be reached.
EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said it was normal at this stage of a UN conference, with just two days to go, to have “a lot of anxiety, confusion and frustration”, but at least delegates were “talking about the right things”, including finance. The commission had allocated €500 million in grants next year, plus a further €400 million for a special programme for Africa, in its budget, which has yet to be approved. But she said this was “in the pipeline [and] we are serious about our financial commitments”.
Ms Hedegaard also noted that renewal of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of this year, was now “ready for ministers to decide”, but she was more concerned about other elements of a deal as negotiations move forward on the “Durban platform”, agreed at last year’s conference in South Africa, which would see a new, legally binding international agreement on how to tackle climate change finalised in 2015, to take effect in 2020. Ms Hedegaard said the path towards achieving this must be agreed in Doha.
However, there was “no way” $100 billion a year in aid could all come from public money, and she called on other parties to see “how we can leverage private financing” through levies on fuels for aviation and maritime transport as well as a tax on financial transactions.
French MEP Corinne Lepage noted that 12 EU member states – including France, Italy and Spain – had decided to impose a tax on stock, share and currency trades as well as dealings in financial derivatives in 2013, and this could raise as much as €37 billion a year.