United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN FCCC) negotiations entered their second week in Copenhagen. Previously stalled negotiations on a political agreement were resuscitated by U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s announcement that the U.S. government would participate in a proposed $100 billion a year fund (starting 2020) to support developing countries in their effort to mitigate CO2 emissions and adapt to climate change, writes The New York Times. The G77, a group representing some 130 plus developing countries, in part steered by China, have been critical of what they view as a lack of commitment from U.S. and European countries to finance climate change support for developing countries.
According to The New York Times, Secretary Clinton said the funds would be a “mix of public and private funds, including ‘alternative sources of finance.’” The U.S. typically contributes around 20 percent of total financing to global funds, in an attempt to match its share of the global economy. “She said the money should chiefly flow to the poorest and most vulnerable nations and should contain a sizable amount to slow deforestation, which contributes to carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.”
However, Secretary Clinton added that the U.S. would continue to demand greater accountability from China, Brazil and other countries that could benefit from these funds. The Guardian (UK) writes that: “Without such transparency, she said, there would be no deal. And without a deal, there would be no money for African and low-lying countries that have the most to lose from rising sea-levels brought by climate change.”
It’s not clear whether the additional funds outlined by Clinton would also include a new global $350 million fund for renewable energy development U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced earlier at the negotiations. The Guardian (UK) adds: “Chu described the initiative as an expansion of agreements reached earlier this year with India and China for joint research on energy efficiency, electric vehicles, and carbon capture and technology. Under the initiative, the US will provide $85 million over five years to the fund. Italy will provide $30 million and Australia $5 million.” Chu said the U.S. has already invested $80 billion in green technology domestically through the recent economic recovery programs, and cited two areas as particularly promising areas for more research and investment: batteries and the development of powerful wind turbines in a more compact size.
The New York Times contends that European countries, including the UK, have been calling for more than $150 billion over ten years, but haven’t agreed to long-term financing schemes. Last week, European countries agreed to provide short-term financing totaling $10.5 billion over the next three years to help poor countries. “But the bloc has so far failed to agree how much they would give in long-term financing. European experts have recommended that the fund should total about $150 billion annually by the end of the next decade.”
African countries threatened to walk out of the conference earlier this week over efforts by developed countries to end the original Kyoto Protocal-negotiated agreements; African recently countries won that dispute. Meanwhile, U.S. Senator John Kerry gave a speech saying he could get a climate change deal through the U.S. Senate if global negotiators reached a political deal. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger also arrived to announce the importance of progress by “sub-national” actors like his state, and argued that leaders of the world’s major cities also have a key role to play in reducing CO2 emissions. Al Gore gave a speech outlining the importance of reaching a deal quickly.
With 48 hours left in the negotiating process, Yvo de Boer, head of the UNFCCC, argued that remaining hours must be used productively if any interim political agreement is going to be reached in time for the more than 100 heads of state, including U.S. President Obama, who arrive later in the week.
Mongabay.com, a leading tropical forest conservation site, is also offering coverage of the Copenhagen negotiations on an anti-deforestation financing scheme, the “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” initiative, which will provide developing countries credits for leaving their valuable carbon sinks in place. The U.S. has just announced its plans to contribute $ 1 billion to prevent more extensive deforestation in developing countries. The New York Times argued that even if the Copenhagen climate change negotiations collapse, a deal on REDD would be a huge major step forward, and agreement on the program looks likely.
Image credit: Kay Nietfel/European Pressphoto Agency