World close to deal on Green Climate Fund

2011-12-07 19:05

Durban - Negotiators are close to agreeing the shape of a Green Climate Fund, which is designed to help poor nations tackle global warming and nudge them towards a new global effort to fight climate change.

Rich countries have pledged up to $100bn a year by 2020 to aid poor states most directly affected by rising global temperatures to adapt their economies and protect themselves from adverse weather.

But critics say it could remain a hollow shell unless there is also agreement on where the actual funds come from - and how the money is spent.

"I have a fair amount of confidence this is going to get done in a positive way," US climate envoy Todd Stern told reporters on Wednesday. Only a few technical operational details remained to be thrashed out, he said.

China has said it wants the fund set up before it will make its domestic climate efforts binding under an international agreement from 2020. Other important developing countries also want the fund's design agreed on in Durban.

"It is our priority to have the fund adopted and functional in South Africa," Brazilian climate envoy Luiz Alberto Figueiredo told Reuters.

When asked how much money could be available, Stern said most donor countries were waiting for the fund to get up and running before making contributions.

Nevertheless, some sources said the United States was still haggling over where the long-term finance would come from and how to measure the needs of poorer countries.

Some cash could come from imposing a charge for carbon emissions on international shipping, but it is unclear whether ministers will adopt that proposal made in draft texts.

Previous UN talks have also tried to include a clause on shipping emissions but it never survived to the final draft

"Even if the fund is established this week, then practical realities will likely limit its impact for a number of years. It will take at least 12 months to set up and the appraisal process means it will probably not be spending until 2015," said Nick Robins, climate change analyst at HSBC.

Those who have worked on the fund for years say agreeing the design is already a major achievement and that it would be easier to find cash once the institution had been created.

"Since the US was the last major hold out on the GCF, it looks like we're in good shape to celebrate," said Andrew Light, a technical expert who has worked on the fund for three years.

"In the last five weeks I've been shuttling around between parties trying to create space to resolve the differences between the US and other countries. There are still just a few issues to resolve but I'm confident they'll get there," he said.

Broader talks are deadlocked on how to move forward after a vital clause of the Kyoto Protocol mandating carbon cuts expires at the end of next year.

The European Union has said it is open to signing up to an updated Kyoto Protocol but wants assurances the world's biggest emitters, including China, the United States and India, which account for nearly 50% of the world's carbon emissions, will sign up too. 

  • Larry - 2011-12-07 19:14

    I hope that something good will come from this Gabfest and that the funds will be used properly.

  • Win - 2011-12-07 19:27

    What a moinumental cop-out. They just need to show SOME tangible results ... and this is it?? Money for the breadline countries? Come on, what do you think will happen to that money .. IF it ever flows? To my mind this is a typical frustration-solution because the main polluters like China have zilch intention to chip in in any form. They sit there and gloat because they are incapable and therefore unwilling to turn around their carbon emissions.

  • Smell - 2011-12-07 20:52

    The Industrialized Nations are evidently not willing to face the music, and would rather pay poor nations to help cope with the resulting environmental havoc. And judging by the astounding breeding rate in the developing world, the leadership in that neck of the woods remains clueless as well. Apparently the world can sustain 3 billion people in the long run. We are already at 7 billion. At some point we will reach a tipping point where humans lose control over climate change. That will be the Earth's revenge on the greed and idiocy of the First and Third Worlds.

  • giuseppe.bonaccorsi - 2011-12-07 21:09

    Help the Nations that need help is allright and funding most be considered seriusly, on the other side, pretend that uman intervention can control or change the climate evolution is utopia. Isisting in this direction is at miniomum disonest.

  • Helmut - 2011-12-08 07:13

    Why can the South African government not lead by example and use COP 17 as a platform to announce that fracking will be banned and St. Lucia and other ecologically fragile areas will be protected in the interest of protecting the environment as well as long term benefit in terms of tourism (where is van Schalkwyk?). They could also announce a campaign to educate people about the benefits of cleaning their own environment and by using rubbish bins instead of littering in the streets and throwing litter out car windows on the highways, at intersections and in parking lots. This includes official vehicles!We must be on the forefront of messing up and damaging the environment and our national flower is no longer the Protea, but plastic bags! Instead of producing hot air and mispronouncing fancy, meaningless words do something constructive in exchange for spending our taxes on hosting talkshops like FLOP 17!

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