Poorest Nations Resisting Push to Widen Climate Donor Group

  • G77 group of developing nations says rich obliged to donate
  • Wealthy nations paid $62 billion in aid last year, OECD says

A drive by the European Union and other developed nations to expand the base of those contributing aid for climate-related projects is facing resistance from developing nations, creating a road block in the effort to craft a deal to rein in global warming.

The spat evolved over a week of United Nations discussions in Germany that wrap up Friday, with richer countries seeking to break down a UN firewall that divides the group based on their circumstances in 1990. It’s been a source of friction at international climate talks ever since.

“To say that you apply the static division of responsibilities from 1990 is disingenuous,” the European Commission’s lead negotiator, Elina Bardram said in an interview in Bonn. “You can’t as a rational person compare Chad and China.”

Developed countries seek to meet a pledge to deliver $100 billion a year in climate change aid by 2020, when the new agreement would start. That deal, which 194 nations aim to seal in Paris in December, would bind all nations to limit emissions, breaking down part of the firewall for the first time. The EU is pushing to expand the participation of developing countries into climate finance.

Expanding Pool

“The narrative that we are being given is that the world has changed and that it is time to expand the pool of donors of climate aid and narrow the list of eligible developing countries to receive support,” said South Africa’s Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, who speaks for the G77 group of more than 130 developing nations and China. “If the world had changed we’d all be permanent members of the Security Council with veto powers.”

Mxakato-Diseko said success in Paris will hinge on the agreement on finance. Ahmed Djoghlaf, the Algerian diplomat leading the discussions alongside U.S. co-chair Dan Reifsnyder, told reporters on Friday that finance is one of the “crunch” issues that will have to be resolved by ministers rather than the lower-level civil servants and diplomats assembled in Bonn.

The new agreement must include periodic reviews of the financing available, as well as the needs of the poorest nations, according to Jan Kowalzig, spokesman on climate finance for the development charity Oxfam.

Setting Targets

“The agreement itself should not have a number because it’s a legal agreement that would last for decades,” Kowalzig said in an interview. “But we need to have periodic target setting, based on specific needs that should inform the targets every 5 years.”

Developing nations want half the aid to be for projects that help them to adapt to climate change, an area that has been relatively neglected compared with the money flowing into more business-friendly programs to cut emissions, such as wind farms and solar parks. Just 16 percent of climate financing in 2013 and 2014 went to adaptation programs, according to a report this month from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Climate Policy Initiative, which put funding last year at $62 billion.

“That report has no status within the negotiations,” Mxakato-Diseko said, questioning its methodology. There is a treaty “obligation on developed country parties to provide finance,” she said.

While the G77 is publicly saying it doesn’t want the donor pool to be expanded to include some of their number, developing countries including Panama, Mongolia and Mexico have made pledges to the UN Green Climate Fund, and China last month made a 20 billion yuan ($3.15 billion) commitment to help poorer countries move away from fossil fuels.

“The reality in the negotiations is somewhat detached from what’s happening on the ground,” said Sarah Blau, an envoy from Luxembourg.

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