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Hot Dispute Over Money Threatens Paris Climate Deal


Poorer countries fear getting stuck with pricey tab.

BONN, Germany — The lack of green is fouling up efforts to hit ambitious targets to reduce pollution — green, as in money.

The traditional fight between rich and poor countries over the best approach to climate change has hit a fresh diplomatic impasse. As the clock ticks down to a key international summit in December, the key sticking points are who’s (more) responsible for advancing the fight against climate change and, crucially, who picks up the tab.

International negotiations in Bonn this week were meant to pave the ground for a deal on how to implement the Paris accords at the global climate summit in Katowice, Poland. They wrapped up Thursday without much progress.

The December summit has been hailed the most important since nearly 200 governments agreed the landmark climate accord in Paris in 2015. And it is there in Poland that governments are supposed to sign off on rules setting out how countries monitor and report their emissions cuts and increase their climate efforts over time.

“What else? Money talks,” said Amjad Abdulla, a delegate from the Maldives and chief climate negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States. He added that promised emissions cuts on the table now fall far short of meeting the Paris deal’s temperature goals of keeping global warming to well below 2 degrees, and as low as 1.5 degrees.

If you look at the [climate commitments] from the global south, it’s mostly conditional on the provision of finance,” Abdulla said. “We will do what we can, but there are limitations. That’s the message we want to convey.”

Developing countries want greater clarity, or predictability, on the financial flows they can expect from rich countries in the future.

The developed countries and the EU want the rules to establish a common system that allows countries to compare and verify emission cuts and other climate efforts.

Patricia Espinosa, the U.N.’s climate chief, told reporters on Thursday that both finance and agreement on robust rules are needed. “Finance is no doubt an important issue,” she said. “At the same time, finance, by itself, will not be the solution.”

She said she has repeatedly raised the “need to make sure there is clarity about … the commitments that have been made already [by developed countries].”

One long-standing issue, causing frustration among developing countries, is for rich nations to meet a pledge to provide climate finance worth $100 billion annually by 2020.

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