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Climate Poker: Developing Nations Win Battle of Bonn

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Vishwa Mohan, Times of India

After many rounds of discussions, the expanded draft agreement has most of the suggestions of G77 and China, as well as from other groups.

Developing countries including India could get their major suggestions inserted into the expanded draft text of the climate agreement during the meeting in Bonn on Friday, but the road to a global climate deal in Paris does not appear to be smooth as this round of negotiation could not help much in resolving the sticking points of finance.

The questions over nature of contribution from rich nations and debate on the issue of beneficiaries are now left for ministers of different countries to settle during the three-day pre-COP (conference of parties) meeting in Paris during November 8-10.

Rich nations want the emerging economies like India, Brazil and South Africa should also contribute to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the money should go to poorer countries. Besides, the rich nations also want loans and existing overseas development assistance (ODA) as counted as the climate finance — the points which were strongly opposed by G77 plus China group in the five-day Bonn meeting that concluded on Friday. India is part of this group comprising 134 developing countries, accounting for over 80% population of the world.

Though the countries will get another window to end their differences over the issue of finance when head of states assemble in Turkey for G20 meeting in mid-November ahead of the crucial Paris COP21 (conference of parties), the ministerial round will be quite crucial for fine-tuning the approach towards resolving the issue.

“Climate finance will be a sticky issue and I believe this is one of the main reasons for keeping observer organizations out of the negotiations (in Bonn). While the draft text does have many options to keep the core issues under the agreement, the developed countries continue to hope that this will be dealt with outside the agreement”, said Arjuna Srinidhi of the Delhi-based think-tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

Srinidhi, who is in Bonn, told TOI, “After many rounds of discussions, the expanded draft has most of the suggestions of G77 and China, as well as from other groups”.

Indian negotiators must be happy as they also got their suggestion on the issue of ‘climate finance’ and ‘technology transfer’ inserted as one of the options under Article 7 of the expanded draft text.

India wants the developing countries must be provided with cutting-edge environment friendly technology free of cost where the intellectual property rights (IPRs) issue can be taken care of by the finance from the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

The rich nations have, however, not provided any clear road map as how they would capitalize the GCF from 2020 onwards. They, in fact, want to keep the issue of ‘climate finance’ outside the agreement, double count ODA as climate finance and account for loans in the same category.

“This was seen in the recently released (and widely criticized by developing countries) OECD report where there is the claim that $ 60 billion has been distributed as climate finance in 2014, which is filled with such kind of double accounting”, said Srinidhi.

Members of civil societies echoed the similar concerns. The ActionAid’s climate policy manager, Harjeet Singh, said: “The events this week in Bonn have shown there is still a mountain to climb before a deal emerges on the horizon at the Paris summit in December.

“On finance, rich countries know they have failed to meet their climate finance obligations. They refuse to admit it or make a good-faith attempt to fix it, instead proffering loans and double-counting development aid as climate finance. In short, developed nations talk big on a long term solution but are still dreaming of a destination without knowing how they will make the journey”.

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