Rich Nations Failing to Detail Climate Aid Pledges

Poor nations have been left in the dark on how much finance wealthy countries will provide to help them adapt to the effects of climate change and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, the development charity Oxfam said.

While rich countries have pledged a total of $16.3 billion of climate aid for 2013, murky accounting and a lack of transparency mean the actual amount offered is probably closer to $7.6 billion, Oxford, England-based Oxfam said today as two weeks of United Nations climate talks started in Warsaw.

Climate aid is a linchpin of the discussions because developing countries say industrialized nations caused the bulk of global warming through two centuries of greenhouse-gas emissions and must take the lead in fixing the problem. Envoys haven’t said how they’ll increase climate finance to reach the $100 billion a year they’ve promised in 2020. That’s 10 times the annual amount they committed for 2010 through 2012.

“Uncertainty from one year to the next makes it impossible for vulnerable countries to take the action they need to protect their citizens,” Kelly Dent, an official at Oxfam, said in an e-mailed statement. “This murkiness will only heighten distrust around the negotiating table.”

Oxfam discounted some funding pledges, which it said were redirected from overseas aid budgets and shouldn’t count as “new and additional” money. Other aid comes in the form of loans that must be repaid, it said.

Britain, France

A total of 24 developed nations have yet to say how much they’ll pay out in climate finance this year, according to Oxfam. The U.K., Germany, France and Finland are the only countries that Oxfam said provided enough information to make robust estimates of their aid for 2014. Britain is alone in providing figures for 2015. France has submitted enough detail to make an estimate, the charity said.

Contributions declared by nations or estimated by Oxfam for 2013 include $2.7 billion from France, $2.4 billion from Germany, $6 billion from Japan, $2.9 billion over two years from Britain and $1.6 billion from the U.S. The estimate from the U.S. rises to as high as $2.5 billion when some development assistance is included.

U.S. envoy Trigg Talley told reporters today his country’s climate aid to developing nations will be about $2.7 billion for fiscal 2013, up from $2.3 billion last year. Lead U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern said in London last month that while no major change in public funding is likely because of a domestic fiscal squeeze, private finance may make up some of the difference.

Step Change

“A genuine step change in funding can occur in the flow of private capital leveraged by public money or public policy,” Stern said Oct. 22. “The well of private capital is deep, but we need hard work by developed and developing governments to tap into it.”

For its part, the 28-nation European Union is on schedule to spend a pledged 5.5 billion euros ($7.4 billion) this year, Juergen Lefevere, deputy delegation chief for the European Commission, said yesterday in Warsaw. The challenge is to ensure developing nations have the capacity to spend that on suitable projects and spur private spending with the funds, he said.

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