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CLIMATE CHANGE: Restoring Trust After ‘Horrible’ Copenhagen Conference

Servaas van den Bosch

BONN, Jun 7 2010 (IPS) - Six months after failing to reach a binding agreement on climate change, negotiators are meeting in Bonn to try to get the process back on track. But deep disagreement over measuring developing countries’ emissions and finding funds for adaptation to climate change remain unresolved.

“Copenhagen was a pretty horrible conference,” conceded Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“This year it’s about restoring trust and that’s why it is important that the $30 billion fast-start funding starts flowing. That would be a motion of confidence in the process.”

De Boer said that clear criteria and a framework for how the fast-start funds will be disbursed is still lacking. Greater clarity is also needed on how to raise the $100 billion a year which the Copenhagen Accord envisions should be available by 2020.

Funding a global response

A paper published Jun. 7 by Project Catalyst of the ClimateWorks Foundation and the European Climate Foundation (ECF) suggests that the demand for money to support mitigation, adaptation and reduced degradation of forests in the developing world will be $21-54 billion over the next three years.

An additional $100-190 billion in private sector investment will have to be found each year.

This is money directed to things like Brazil’s Amazon Fund, which aims to reduce deforestation there by 80 percent. It’s funding steer developing countries towards renewable energy sources, and more efficient factories, buildings, vehicles and appliances.

And it’s meeting the developed world’s commitment to pay the costs of adaptation to climate change for those with least responsibility for greenhouse gases to date, but the greatest vulnerability to the effects of global warming. Project Catalyst stresses that fulfilling pledges on adaptation is crucial to maintaining trust and eventual progress on a binding treaty.

So far 28 billion dollars of public finance funding has been pledged for the Fast Start plan laid out by the Copenhagen Accord, according to the researchers; some is in the form of loans, but $25 billion will effectively be grants to address climate change between 2010 and 2012. The chief contributors are Japan ($11 billion), the European Union ($9.6 billion), the U.S. ($5.1 billion), Norway ($1.8 billion), and Australia ($500 million).

What portion of this promised amount is “new and additional” funding as set out by the Copenhagen Accord is unclear.

“It’s definitely less than the $25 billion, but we don’t know by how much,” ECF researcher Ramzi Elias told IPS. “Countries use different definitions of ‘additional’ and are generally not transparent on either their climate funding or development assistance.”

According to Elias, there’s evidence that many projects financed in 2009 have been counted as expenditure under fast-track financing.

Also yet to be determined is how climate change funding will be channeled to recipients. Developing countries want a new independent fund that distributes funds on the basis of needs. Industrialised nations prefer to funnel it through existing institutions like the World Bank or the United Nations Development Programme.

Moving negotiations forward

Denying that there has been a lack of urgency, De Boer said only six months had passed since the proposal was put forward in Copenhagen.

He also said he didn’t see adequate mitigation targets being met within the next decade, emphasising the need for long-term planning. “In Copenhagen leaders talked about 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050.”

The discussions in Bonn are working towards a negotiating text for the sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP16) to be held in Cancun, Mexico in December 2010.

De Boer, who has headed the UNFCCC since 2006, won’t be there. At the end of June, the climate chief hands over to Costa Rican Christiana Figueres, who rose through the ranks of UNFCCC, playing an important role in developing the Clean Development Mechanism.

The handover is widely regarded as a recognition of the importance developing countries play in the post-Copenhagen climate change debate.

“Some 25.000 people a day die of hunger or related cause every day, climate change will only exacerbate this,” said De Boer. “It remains important to establish the international architecture to deal with this.”

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