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Rich Nations Get Cold Feet Over $100 Billion Climate Promise

Nitin Sethi, Business Standard

Developed countries do not wish to provide a road map before 2019 for their financial commitments to fight climate change. But at the Lima talks they have demanded that the linked actions of developing countries to reduce emissions be announced and reviewed well before, by 2015 itself.

This has led to a logjam on the issue of finance in the negotiations. But, it has also got all the factions within the over-arching G77+China group of 134 developing countries aligned close. On the penultimate day of talks, several critical concerns on how the financial support to fight climate change would operate under the 2015 agreement remained unclear.

Topmost was the proposal from developed countries on a road map for future financial support. They said they would provide annual statements of their financial contributions only from 2019.

Under existing agreements developed countries are required to provide $ 100 billion annually from 2020 to reduce emissions as well as adapt to inevitable climate change. So far, their pledges add to just about $ 10 billion. “But these are just pledges. We don’t know what the nature of these monies is and how and when they shall translate to real transfers,” said an Indian delegate at Lima who is tracking the negotiations on finance.

The developing countries have been demanding a clear map for ramping up the funds to the $ 100 billion target over past two years but developed countries have blocked such a decision.

“While there is some acknowledgement in the developed countries that this year the issue is critical to success at Lima, developing countries will wait to see the substance of their offer and not just rhetoric,” said the negotiator.

Even as the developed countries blocked movement on the finance road map, they pressed the pedal in demanding that developing countries put their emission reduction targets up early and then subject these to a review (called ex ante review) in 2015 itself.

Under the existing agreements, enhanced emission reduction actions of the developing countries are to be enabled by finance and technology from rich nations. This was objected to by several developing countries on Wednesday, including Brazil, the Africa group, Bolivia, China and India. “This will delink their commitments on finance from our enhanced actions. It’s putting the cart before the horse,” said another Indian negotiator at Lima to Business Standard.

Indian environment minister Prakash Javadekar raised this issue personally at the panel meeting on Wednesday, pointing to the anomaly in the timetables of different commitments, loading the dice against developing countries.

The developed countries have also so far blocked a proposal on which India is keen and has found wide support for from other developing countries. It requires a special facility under the existing Green Climate Fund to provide clean technologies at lowered costs to poor countries. It is an idea espoused strongly by Javadekar.

“The developed countries are also trying through several routes to hoist obligations on developing countries to also contribute to the Green Climate Fund. They are using various phrases to insert this idea in the Lima decisions. This would rewrite the existing agreements and again transfer the burden to countries like us,” said a diplomat from a developing country. “The developed countries will have to relent at Lima on this. They cannot have their cake and eat it, too.”

He noted it was one issue on which the different developing country groups had all come together.

“In fact, the anger against the backtracking on finance by developed countries is convincing the poor countries to also come together on other issues at Lima,” he added.

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