A stand-off over how many billions of dollars wealthy countries should stump up to help poorer nations cope with climate change over the next three years is prompting concern that fresh UN climate negotiations may be headed for collapse.
The talks in the Qatari capital of Doha are entering their final five days. But they risk collapse, according to some negotiators, unless developed countries formally agree to commit to as much as $60bn in fresh funding by 2015.
If the negotiators fail to reach an agreement in Doha, some say it could unravel the fragile accord wrung out at the last minute at last year’s UN talks in Durban, South Africa, to finalise a new global climate pact by 2015 that would enter force by 2020.
Such warnings are often seen as negotiating stances rather than real threats at this stage of the annual two-week climate talks. But some veteran negotiators said they were unsure if the Qatari hosts of this year’s talks were doing enough to pull negotiators together to iron out a compromise.
Others said developing countries’ funding calls should not be dismissed.
“These are not idle threats, these are serious demands,” said Tim Gore of Oxfam, an experienced observer of the UN talks. “Developing countries are determined this year they won’t leave without knowing that finance levels will go up and not down from 2013.”
Wealthy countries agreed at the 2009 UN climate talks in Copenhagen that they would mobilise $100bn a year by 2020 to help poor countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
To prove it, they agreed to put up $30bn over the three years from 2010 to 2012 in what was known as “fast start finance”.