New pledges smooth splits on climate finance in Lima

by Gerard Wynn | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 16:44 GMT

A worker at a fuel station checks a 500 Indian rupee note after filing a vehicle with fuel in Kolkata, India, on February 3, 2011. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

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But developing countries say much more is needed

New financial pledges by Australia and Belgium to a Green Climate Fund have put it over the $10 billion mark considered the minimum to appease developing countries at a climate conference in Peru’s capital.

The Lima conference is the last major meeting before countries meet to sign a new climate agreement in Paris at the end of 2015, for action beyond 2020.

Environment ministers are trying to agree the scope of a prospective Paris agreement, and in particular a checklist of what countries should include in pledges for climate action, which they should submit in the first half of next year.

They are also trying to agree what action on climate change might be taken before 2020, when the new deal comes into effect.

Climate finance looms large: it is vital to convince developing countries to try and cut their emissions and grow their economies in an environmentally friendly way, and so help limit global average warming to below 2 degrees Celsius.

Rich countries have offered to provide climate finance at previous conferences, going all the way back to the 1992 Convention on Climate Change.

But developing countries complain that richer nations have so far fallen short, and in particular have failed to push toward delivering $100 billion annually by 2020, as pledged five years ago at a similar conference in Copenhagen.

In this context, Tuesday’s pledges, which took the Green Climate Fund’s capital just over $10 billion, was the absolute minimum to prevent distrust from spilling over in Lima.

“It is an alarming fact that we are still far from meeting the levels of needs of developing countries to keep the 2 degree global goal,” the executive chair of Indonesia’s National Council on Climate Change, Rachmat Witoelar, told a ministerial debate on climate finance in Lima on Tuesday.

“Against this backdrop, we welcome the outcome of the initial resources mobilisation of the Green Climate Fund, and the additional pledges that have been announced in this forum.”

Total climate finance flows to developing countries are presently around $40-175 billion annually, depending on what is included, according to a report published last week by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

India’s environment minister, Prakash Javadekar, echoed many developing countries, saying on Tuesday that developing nations needed much more help.

Quoting a study published two years ago, he said that developing countries’ needs for adaptation and mitigation “is being estimated in the range of $600 billion to $1,500 billion a year,” he said.

Poorer nations also want developed countries to agree in Lima to show how they will ramp up climate finance through the 2020s, in their climate pledges – called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – due next year.

That is something richer countries are opposed to doing. The European Union has said such concrete details must wait.

“Let’s say very clearly that INDCs are for mitigation,” said the EU’s Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action, Miguel Arias Canete, on Monday, meaning that countries should only submit targets for cuts in carbon emissions, not climate finance or support for adaptation.

For their part, developed countries insist on accountability. The $100 billion target, for example, was tied to action from developing countries to cut their emissions, and would include detailed rules on how the money was spent, U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern told the finance debate on Tuesday.

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