6 june 2011

Bonn climate talks: Developing nations question funding commitment

Money promised 18 months ago to help countries adapt to climate change has not been made available

John Vidal, environment editor, Monday 6 June 2011

The UN climate talks re-opened in Bonn on Monday with developing countries increasingly resentful that money promised 18 months ago to help them adapt to climate change has not been made available.

New research by the World Resources Institute (WRI) shows that the world's 21 developed countries and the European commission have publicly announced pledges of $28bn in "fast-track" money after a commitment made in Copenhagen in 2009. While this is close to the $30bn promised for the 2010-2012 period, only around $12bn has actually been budgeted for by countries and as little as around 30% has been delivered in some cases.

One negotiator with the G77 group of developing countries, who asked to remain nameless, said: "We are battered by adverse impacts of climate change. Frontline states face a double crunch of climate heat and poverty. But even the fast-start finance agreed at Cancún has yet to reach the climate-marooned tens of millions people across Asia, Africa and Latin America. The money should be rolled out much more quickly."

Confusion and secrecy surrounds the source of the funds. According to the WRI, many countries may be "double counting" their offers. "The fast-start pledges of the United Kingdom and the United States also include their 2008 commitments to the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) of roughly $1.4bn and $2bn respectively," says the report. "Japan's $15bn fast start pledge announced in December 2009 includes $10bn announced previously in 2008."

"The UK has indicated that it had approved £568m for specific programmes in 2010-11. This means that it will need to provide £932m, in fast-start funds by 2012 in order to meet [its] pledges", said Clifford Polycarp, a senior associate with the WRI.

"We can expect only around 30% of what has been promised by next year. It is very frustrating", said Quamrul Choudhury, a lead negotiator with the least developed countries in Bonn.

Despite the warnings on Sunday from the UN climate change chief, Christiana Figueres, that global warming is "getting into very risky territory", little or no progress is expected on emission cuts at the Bonn negotiations. Sources close to the talks suggest the political situation in major economies is not conducive to major new initiatives because of possible leadership changes in the next two years in Germany, the US, France, China and elsewhere.

The current pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions go only around 60% of the distance to what scientists say is needed to hold global emissions to 2C, the minimum with any chance of preventing catastrophic climate change.

The world's 48 least developed countries and the group of 43 small island states jointly appealed to the rich countries to act:

"After nearly two decades of negotiations designed to limit the carbon pollution responsible for dangerously warming the planet, we instead have watched global emissions steadily climb to the highest level on record," said Cape Verde's ambassador to the UN, Antonio Lima, and Pa Ousman Jarju, Gambian chair of the least-developed countries group.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a peak last week at 394.97 parts per million (ppm), an increase of nearly 1.6ppm on last year and the highest ever recorded. It followed estimates from the International Energy Agency (IEA) that emissions from energy generation in 2010 were the highest in history. About three-quarters of the energy emissions increase in 2010 came from developing countries, including China and India, said the IEA.

The major stumbling block to a new agreement at the climate talks remains the totemic issue of the future of the Kyoto protocol, the only legally binding agreement forcing rich countries to cut emissions. Developing countries are determined to see a second round, but Russia, Japan and Canada have ruled that out. The impasse is unlikely to be resolved in the next year.

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