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Doubts On $30 Billion Climate Finance Overshadow UN Talks

Alex Morales, The Washington Post

Doubts mounted about whether developed nations honored a pledge to deliver $30 billion in aid for fighting and defend against climate change after two analysts estimated different amounts had been paid out.

The question over how much finance was provided under the “fast-start” program has the potential to undermine trust between donor and recipient nations during two weeks of United Nations talks on a treaty to curb global warming. Aid is the linchpin of the talks starting today in Doha after industrial nations pledged in 2009 to channel $100 billion a year for climate projects by 2020.

“We can’t say if it was delivered or not because we can’t be sure,” Seyni Nafo, a Malian envoy who speaks for a bloc of African nations, said in an interview yesterday, referring to the $30 billion pledge. “The process of fast-start finance was supposed to build trust, but it created more tension and frustration that what was proposed was not delivered.”

The European Union, U.S., Japan and other developed nations paid out $23.6 billion of assistance to poorer countries during the three years through 2012, falling short of the $30 billion promised in 2009, the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development said today. An estimate today from the World Resources Institute in Washington put the total paid at almost $34 billion.

A third estimate for the sum from Nick Robins, head of the Climate Change Center at HSBC Holdings Plc in London, valued it at $32 billion as of Oct. 25. Of that, $25 billion so far has been allocated to projects, HSBC said. Allocation doesn’t necessarily mean the funds have been paid.


“While countries are on track to fulfil their initial pledges, there continues to be a lack of clarity around the exact definition of what can count toward fast start finance,” Cliff Polycarp a senior associate at the WRI said in a statement. “This leaves room for doubt as to whether these targets are indeed being met.”

The UN talks involving more than 190 nations are working toward adopting a treaty in 2015 that would limit greenhouse gases starting in 2020. Richer countries pledged aid for poorer nations struggling to cope with the impact of global warming as a first step toward worldwide limits on fossil fuel emissions.

With the three-year fast-start aid period ending this year, envoys in Doha must also ensure aid doesn’t end next year, by doubling pledges to $60 billion for the three years through 2015 and plowing $10 billion to $15 billion into a new Green Climate Fund that was set up at last year’s round of talks, said the environmental group Conservation International in Washington.

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