Climate fund talks in disarray as US refuses to sign deal

Kevin Rawlinson The Independent 3 Dec 11;

Emergency talks are continuing this morning in a bid to rescue a proposed climate fund which is central to securing meaningful resolutions from the UN's climate change conference in Durban.

There is still significant disagreement over how to run the Green Climate Fund, intended to channel billions of pounds to help poorer countries take on climate change, with the US and Saudi Arabia said to be standing in the way.

But climate campaigners said yesterday they were hopeful that a deal would be reached without formally reopening debate on the essentials of the Fund, which would delay agreement about how to implement it in practice. Such a hold-up would jeopardize the chances of securing international consensus on what to do when the main provisions of the Kyoto Treaty expire at the end of next year.

"Some of the poorer countries would be unlikely to sign up to any agreement to take over from the Kyoto Treaty without the promise in place to set up some sort of provision to help them grow at the same time as tackling their carbon output, such as the Fund. Because it is so important, people can use it as a football," said a source at the conference in South Africa.

In a bid to avoid potentially disastrous delays caused by reopening official negotiations on the Fund, the summit's president – South Africa's international relations minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane – is holding a series of informal meetings between the parties. Talks to get to this point have already taken almost a year.

The disagreement surfaced on Wednesday night when delegates from the US and Saudi Arabia said they would not sign off on a report stating how to run the Fund. It is hoped the fund will channel much of the £63bn wealthier countries have pledged to give to their developing neighbours to offset the economic difficulties of limiting their carbon emissions.

They were followed by representatives from Venezuela and other South American nations who expressed doubts about handing a leading role to the World Bank, intended to act as the Fund's interim trustee, because of its perceived links to the US. Nigerian officials also said they were worried that private sector influence would limit poorer nations' ability to decide what to spend the money on.

Yesterday, Lord Prescott, the Rapporteur on Climate Change for the Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe, called for the Kyoto Protocol to be put on hold to ensure delegates had time to decide on new measures.

The former Deputy Prime Minister said that, if it were suspended for a period, it could be extended beyond its current finish date: the end of 2012. Launching the Council of Europe's report: "Stop the Clock, Save our Planet," Lord Prescott called Canada, which failed to meet its targets, a "disgrace".

He said: "The rich countries have thrown down the gauntlet to the poorest. We must now pick it up and show these developed countries whose economic growth poisoned the planet, that they must accept their responsibility.

"It seems the US and Canada are still slaves to big oil and their own vested interests, preserving their status quo while obstructing the efforts of others. We propose that by stopping the clock the Kyoto mechanisms, core principles, organisational structures and expertise will not expire and parties could continue to act as if treaty were still in force while time is allowed for negotiations to finalise a new agreement."

Factbox: The Green Climate Fund
PlanetArk 2 Dec 11;

The United Nations hopes delegates attending global climate talks in Durban, South Africa, will agree on the design of a multi-billion-dollar fund to help poorer nations green their economies and adapt to more chaotic weather.

Formally launching the Green Climate Fund would be a boost for the U.N.-led negotiations that have largely stalled on efforts to agree tougher steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are heating up the planet and will bring more extreme weather.

Delegates involved in designing the fund over the past year say most of the disagreements have been resolved but some issues remain for the November 28-December 9 talks in Durban.

Following are details of the fund and the main sticking points.


Poorer countries, particularly in parts of Africa, Asia and small island nations, are the most vulnerable to rising sea levels and more intense droughts and floods that could trigger crop failures, damage to infrastructure and disrupt water supplies.

They blame the major industrialized nations for pumping large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning fossil fuels into the atmosphere and say those nations should help pay for the cost of adapting to weather extremes. They also want cash and easier access to clean energy technologies.

According to a draft:

-- The fund will start operating from 2013, although it remains an empty shell with no new funding commitments. Wealthier nations are being urged to pledge money, with the G20 expected to look at the issue during 2012. Nations have backed an intention to raise $100 billion in climate cash by 2020 and the fund is expected to manage part of this.

-- The fund would be run by a 24-member board, split evenly between developing and developed countries.

-- The World Bank would be the interim trustee subject to a review after 3 years and will be accountable to the board.

-- An independent secretariat will serve the board. A host country for the fund has to be chosen.

-- The fund will provide money and other assistance to help poorer nations shift toward low-emissions power generation and adapt to the impacts of climate change, with a focus on the urgent needs of nations highly vulnerable to climate change.

-- Private sector funds can also contribute toward programmers.

-- Poorer nations can access funds via multi-lateral lending agencies or specialist U.N. bodies or directly after an accreditation process. Countries can nominate domestic agencies to access funds but these need to be vetted.

-- Financing can be in the form of concessional lending, grants and other types as decided by the board.


The United States, the world's second-biggest CO2 emitter, and Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, voiced objections during a final design planning meeting in October. That means delegates at the Durban meeting will try to reach a compromise.

The United States has said it wants greater emphasis on the role of the private sector. It also wants an explicit reference that contributions to the fund could also come from developing countries, although there is nothing to stop a developing country doing so under the current draft.

Washington also favors a model based on the multi-lateral banks playing a leading role with the World Bank as the trustee. It has also raised a question about the extent of the fund's independence.

Saudi Arabia has said it wants a clear reference to support for so-called response measures, which it says should include compensation for loss of oil revenues if the world steps up measures to reduce oil consumption.