UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined developing nations to press for more details on how rich nations plan to reach a three-year-old pledge to provide $100 billion in annual aid by 2020 to fight global warming, weighing in on an issue that’s creating a rift at climate talks in Doha.
“This is a matter of credibility for member states,” Ban told reporters at a briefing yesterday. “This will be crucially important in facilitating the promotion of a legally binding agreement by 2015.”
Finance is the biggest source of conflict at the United Nations-sponsored negotiations involving more than 190 nations. Envoys are working to lay the foundations for drafting by 2015 a new treaty to limit fossil-fuel emissions.
Ban’s comments came as ministers joined for the culmination of the two-week conference, underscoring concern that neither rich nor poor countries are moving quickly enough on reining in fossil-fuel emissions, which scientists say are behind rising sea levels and more violent storms.
“Too many unfulfilled commitments lead me regretfully to conclude that we are reaching a tipping point beyond which Mother Nature and generations to come will suffer unpredictable damage,” said Ali-Ben Bongo Ondimba, president of Gabon and one of the seven national leaders to address the conference.
While developed nations have mostly delivered $30 billion in support for the three years through 2012, few have discussed how they plan to get to the end-of-decade target. The U.K. alone in the Group of Seven nations came forward with a pledge this week, earmarking 1.8 billion pounds ($2.9 billion) for climate aid for the three years starting next year.
With budget crises captivating the attention of policy makers from Washington to Brussels, envoys from the richer nations in Doha worked to assure their counterparts that funds would still flow for climate aid. The payments are for projects that cut emissions and help countries adapt to the effects of global warming.
The European Commission’s lead negotiator, Artur Runge-Metzger, said last week that member states such as Germany, France, the Netherlands and Nordic countries may detail their aid plans this week.
“We do need to see more pledges,” U.K. Energy Secretary Ed Davey said at a press conference in Doha yesterday. “Understandably, many developing countries would like the developed world to commit in detail for funds to 2020. We can’t expect all governments to commit all the way to 2020.”
Developing nations are seeking a “road map” showing how nations will meet the $100 billion pledge. Poorer countries say they’re unable to plan efforts to cut greenhouse gases or protect themselves against erratic rainfall and rising sea levels without the certainty of greater funding. Island nations want additional funds in the form of an insurance policy protecting them against loss and damage from climate disasters.
“There should be no gap between the fast-start and the $100 billion promised in 2020,” Grenadian envoy Dessima Williams said in an interview. “That’s seven years where there’s no certainty on financing. What we are saying is right now in Doha put something on the table.”
Brazil and China said they were interested in aid flows over the medium term, a signal they’re flexible on the sort of details expected to come from this meeting.
“There must be a solution for financing,” Xie Zhenhua, the lead envoy for China, told reporters yesterday. “Without a clear solution to the long-term financing we should focus on the medium term financing” between now and 2020.
Xie was backed up by Brazil’s lead negotiator, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, who said developed nations must increase aid “step by step so that by 2020 we are at a good level of investment for the fight against climate change.”
This year’s discussions aim to smooth the negotiation process by combining three separate strands of discussion into one. Some of the most controversial issues aren’t likely to be resolved this year, lessening the need for the rich nations to give ground on aid. Those issues include the legal nature of the 2015 treaty and the restrictions on burning fossil fuels applicable in poor nations.
Japan mobilized $17.4 billion of fast-start finance, making it the biggest donor for the three years through 2012, according to Masahiko Horie, the nation’s envoy at the talks.
“We are going to continue our efforts even beyond 2013,” Horie said in an interview in Doha yesterday. He declined to provide an amount.
The U.S., which paid out about $7.5 billion in fast-start finance, also has yet to detail what it will pay out from next year.
“We have every intention to continue pressing forward with funding of that same kind of level, to the greatest extent that we can,” Todd Stern, the senior State Department diplomat at the talks, said at a briefing. “Obviously we need to get money, to appropriate from Congress.”
Runge-Metzger said last week that the European Commission is planning to deliver 300 million euros ($392 million) to 500 million euros of financing for projects next year.
“Financing is one of the crucial issues,” Matthias Groote, chairman of the environment committee in the European Parliament, said in an interview. “It could make or break the conference. I’m very glad that the U.K. announced it wants to bring in the money, and now it’s the turn for the other 26 member states.”
The U.K. aid comes from an existing 2.9 billion-pound fund that’s already contributed the bulk of the U.K.’s 1.5 billion pounds of fast-start financing.
“Climate finance is the genie in the bottle which has the power to transform the lives and economies of some of the poorest in the world, helping them deal with both the impacts of climate change and stop the growing addiction to fossil fuels,” Meena Raman, who is observing the talks for Friends of the Earth’s affiliate in Malaysia.
The UN secretary general urged envoys to step up the ambitions of their agreement this week, saying the window of opportunity to act was closing.
“Ice caps are showing unprecedented melting,” Ban said. “Permafrost is thawing. The abnormal is the new normal. No one is immune to climate change, rich or poor. We, collectively, are the problem. We should have the solutions.”