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Rich Nations Break $30 Billion Climate Promise, Poor World Says

Monday, 20 Jun 2011 07:30 AM

 

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Richer countries have failed to supply the $30 billion of climate financing they pledged at the Copenhagen summit in 2009, developing world officials and non- governmental organizations said.

Only about $5 billion of the funds due to be delivered through next year are “new and additional” as promised, with the rest of the so-called Fast Start money diverted from other aid budgets or previously announced, according to a report by the Washington-based Institute of Policy Studies that was endorsed by Pakistan, Bangladesh and Solomon Islands officials.

“This is overseas development aid repackaged as climate finance,” Farrukh Khan, Pakistan’s lead negotiator, said in an interview in Bonn, Germany, last week. “Deep down, the feeling is very real that this is not happening.”

U.S. President Barack Obama, as well as Nicolas Sarkozy of France and German Premier Angela Merkel, pledged to mobilize the funds in Copenhagen as they could not agree on limiting carbon emissions beyond 2012. The failure to make good on the promise is eroding developing nations’ confidence in the United Nations- led process to limit global warming that is increasingly reliant on goodwill rather than legal guarantees.

“It’s damaging the fragile confidence that we have,” Collin Beck, the Solomon Islands’ ambassador to the UN, said in an interview in Bonn, where delegates met last week to negotiate further measures to control emissions. “These are things that have been promised but not delivered.”

Voluntary Pledges

Small island states and those living in low-lying coastal areas, among the most vulnerable to climate change, are relying on countries’ voluntary pledges to restrain emissions because the legally enforceable limits set out in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol will expire at the end of next year.

Developed nations last month reported $28 billion in finance has been pledged to help poor countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to variations in the climate. Japan was the biggest contributor with $15 billion, according to the report. Still, $10 billion of the money Japan declared was already promised under its 2008 Cool Earth Partnership.

“We had dialogue with the African and Island countries. For them the important thing is not the definition of new and additional, but to have an impact on the ground,” Masaki Noke, deputy director general at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in an interview. “Some expressed a strengthening of trust. If you want further action the essential element of Fast Start was to act pragmatically and fast.”

Fast Start Program

The Fast Start program was intended to identify sources of funding and establish mechanisms for channeling that to poor countries to help them deal with rising temperatures and shifts in weather patterns. Richer countries pledged to increase the flow to $100 billion a year by 2020 in a move that paralleled efforts by the Group of Eight leading industrial nations to tackle global poverty.

“There’s been a long history of the G-8 announcing these massive amounts of money and when actually disbursed it gets smaller,” Mariama Williams, a senior fellow at The South Centre in Geneva who helped write the study, said in an interview.


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