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Paris climate conference: Finance set to be stumbling block in talks

Developed nations refuse to put figure on aid they will give for climate action after 2020 as per agreement at Copenhagen in 2009.

An activist at the venue for the COP21 in Le Bourget, near Paris, on Wednesday.  (Source: AP) An activist at the venue for the COP21 in Le Bourget, near Paris, on Wednesday. (Source: AP)

As was being expected, wrangling over money has begun at the climate change conference in Paris. Developed countries are refusing to put any figure on the money they are willing to provide for climate action after 2020, while at the same time trying to shift at least a part of their financial responsibility on the developing countries.

With just 10 days remaining to stitch together a global climate agreement, and a number of unresolved issues staring in the face, negotiators here have divided themselves into several small groups to thrash out differences quickly. About 40 such groups have been constituted, each looking at a separate issue.

Though none of these groups have made any significant progress, the main battles are being fought in the groups that are discussing finance. Developed countries are obligated under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to provide money to the developing nations to help them deal with the impacts of climate change. During the Copenhagen climate change conference in 2009, the developed world had committed itself to “mobilise” $100 billion in climate finance every year from 2020. While some progress has been made in raising this money for 2020, for which the countries got eight years, there is no clarity on how this money will be made available every year after that.

Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists said it was the progress on finance which will be the key to success in Paris. “Finance is the most important issue here, and there is little progress on that front in the last two days of negotiations,” he said.

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Sources said that in the discussions within the sub-groups, there was no mention of the $100 billion target, leave alone an additional amount as being demanded by developing countries. Instead, developed countries were repeatedly trying to increase the donor base to include countries that were in the “position to do so” or were “willing to do so”.

Part of this battle got reflected in the open in the comments of US chief negotiator Todd Stern who said post-2020 finance was an “open and live question”. He said the US agreed on “the notion of continuing to provide robust finance on the same kind of criteria as the pledge in 2009 so that it includes funding from all sources, all channels. But we also encourage countries in a position to do so to also provide finances.”

But developing countries have always rejected this attempt to expand the donor base, and one of the climate meetings earlier this year had seen a major conflict on this issue after which the developed countries had agreed to back off.

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Raman Mehta of the Bengaluru-based Vasudha Foundation said, “There is a very clear attempt by developed countries to slide away from their responsibilities, not just on their commitments on finance, but also on issues like loss and damage mechanism, or on the differentiation mechanism in the manner reviews of climate actions will take place.”

There was also frustration at the slow pace of negotiations. “My feeling is that we need to very quickly speed up the matters,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

First published on: 03-12-2015 at 02:22:43 am
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