100 Billion Reasons a Global Climate-Change Deal May Fall Apart

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The richest nations still haven’t convinced the rest of the world they’re willing to pay the tab to help curb climate change, diplomats warned at a United Nations conference Monday.

With five months to go before a critical conference that’s expected to result in a global emissions pact, developing nations say they’re still waiting for proof the richest countries will meet a $100 billion-a-year pledge to help them curb greenhouse gases and adapt to a warming world. The concerns threaten to undermine talks aimed at reaching an agreement in Paris in December.

“The first and critical step to gain trust is for the developed countries to honor their pledges,” Khaled Fahmy, Egypt’s environment minister, told attendees at UN headquarters in New York. Wealthier countries have to provide “clarity on fulfilling their commitment.”

Negotiators from almost 200 nations are aiming for a Paris deal that would commit all countries for the first time to reducing heat-trapping greenhouse gases. The developing world’s buy-in is seen as critical, with emissions projected to rise the most in coming decades in fast-growing countries such as China and India.

To reach a deal this year, “credible climate financing is essential,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the conference.

In a joint statement on Sunday, China, India, South Africa and Brazil said the talks had made progress but they were disappointed over “the continued lack of any clear road map for developed countries” to meet the $100 billion pledge.

2009 Pledge

Wealthy economies, including the U.S. and Europe, first promised the funding in 2009, committing to mobilize both public and private financing. So far, the countries have pledged about $10 billion for one UN agency, the Green Climate Fund, but not all the money has actually been delivered.

Ban also pushed world leaders to redouble efforts to reach an agreement, criticizing the weak emissions-cutting plans submitted by individual countries.

The global increase in temperatures will exceed 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) under the national pledges already submitted to UN, Ban said. Unless they’re improved, the world will blow past the limit, which scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst effects of global warming.

“The pace of UN negotiations are far too slow,” Ban said. “It’s like a snail’s pace.”

The U.S., the world’s biggest historic source of greenhouse gases, pledged earlier this year to cut its emissions by as much as 28 percent by 2025. The European Union has promised a 40 percent cut by 2030. Several other major economies, including Australia and Japan, have yet to submit climate plans to the UN.

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