Rich countries warned over climate funds

21/03/2010 | Sid Verma

Leading UN officials last night said the Cancun climate change summits later this year will fail unless developed nations mobilize the $30 billion per year they have pledged to developing economies

Rich countries must mobilize the $30 billion per year they have pledged to developing economies in climate change financing – or the Cancun summit at the end of the year will fail, environmental policymakers said yesterday.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told Emerging Markets in Cancun yesterday: “The key challenge to securing a global environmental accord is how to secure the financing of environmental policies in developing countries.”

Environmental campaigners are calling on rich countries to clarify their respective contributions and to disburse funds pledged at the much-lamented Copenhagen summit in December. It was agreed that developing countries were to be given $30 billion annually until 2012, and then $100 billion a year until 2020.

Eduardo Braga, governor of state of Amazonas, told Emerging Markets that the December climate change summit scheduled in Cancun by the UN would be the “opportunity to set up a connection between developing countries and the rich countries to get resources – at last.”

US President Barack Obama is battling to push through a bill that would create a climate change fund, and reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020.

Asked whether government spending cuts and large debt burdens in the West would derail the drive for climate change funds, Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, told Emerging Markets: “We need to be innovative about that financing; it can’t just be government to government; it needs to also come from the private sector and ... taxes.”

In December, UN officials had hoped that the Kyoto Protocol – under which emission cuts were obligatory only from 37 developed countries – would be replaced with an agreement that includes legally-binding targets for developing nations too. Instead, the US, EU, Brazil, South Africa, India and China brokered a deal requiring poor countries to propose voluntary actions.

De Boer said that clarifying the legal status of the Kyoto protocol was “the second key challenge along with the financing issue”. He lamented the lack of “enforcement power” in global legally-binding treaties.

Asked whether Latin American governments were throwing their weight behind the global negotiations, de Boer said: “Brazil is already playing an important role, and it would be good if more Latin American middle-income economies became more vocal in the process.”

On the problem of incentivizing China for environmental action in the face of US demands for ambitious carbon cuts in the world’s largest commodity consumer, de Boer said: “China is not going to do something that will stop it from growing. There is an economic stability issue here.”

Robinson branded the Copenhagen summit “a failure” as it lacked “precision, consultation and practicality”.

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