‘Lack of Trust’ on Climate Aid Still Dividing Wealthier, Poor Nations Ahead of Paris Talks

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By Dean Scott

June 29 — Countries have made too little progress bridging the “lack of trust” between richer and poorer nations just five months before global climate accord talks begin in Paris, the head of the UN climate secretariat told Bloomberg BNA June 29.

“There is a lack of clarity and a lack of trust” between the two sides that will have to be resolved if the accord—which is to be the first to include actions from developed and developing nations alike—is to be signed by nearly 200 nations at year's end, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework on Climate Change, said in an interview.

The promised aid is intended to help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts.

Figueres, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and others signaled increasing concern over the pace of the talks in June 29 speeches at the UN's New York headquarters, where they and key environment ministers gathered to push countries to pick up the pace of negotiations.

The UN climate official told Bloomberg BNA there are no plans for additional negotiations beyond those now scheduled in the run-up to the Nov. 30 start of the Paris summit. The UN is to hold two more negotiating rounds in late August and late October, along with a pre-Paris ministerial meeting in Italy in Octobe.

No ‘Credible Pathway’ to $100 Billion

Figueres told ministers at the UN event that the “contours of the agreement are emerging,” but that there remain “high-level political challenges”—foremost, the rift over climate aid for developing nations adapt.

“There is no doubt that financing is the most crucial component yet to be clarified,” she said at the one-day UN High-Level Event on Climate Change.

In her interview with Bloomberg BNA, Figueres said the rift centers on the $100 billion a year developed nations pledged toward climate finance beginning in 2020—a promise unveiled by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit. Nearly six years later, the U.S. and other developed nations have raised billions of dollars, including a $10 billion Green Climate Fund, but have offered few details on where the remainder of the $100 billion pledged will come from.

“We all know that you don't get to $100 billion overnight,” Figueres said, but she said developed nations will likely need to provide more details in the months ahead.

Those industrialized countries recognize that making good on that pledge is crucial to getting developing nations to commit to actions under the Paris climate deal, Figueres said. “But there's also a lack of trust among developed countries about the means to which developing nations will put those funds,” she said.

But poorer developing nations “do not deem what is currently on the table actually a credible pathway” to reaching that $100 billion mark, she said. “So they want to have more information on how are developed countries going to build the road” to that funding level she said.

Assuring developing nations that there is a firm funding plan “is absolutely fundamental” to getting an agreement signed at the end of the Paris UN talks, which are to conclude Dec. 11.

$10 Billion a ‘Good Start.’

Hela Cheikhrouhou, executive director of the Green Climate Fund, told ministers at the UN event that 34 nations made a combined $10 billion in pledges to the Green Climate Fund in 2014, and 24 of them have “converted those pledges into signed agreements” pledging future support.

Sweden, she said, was the largest contributor on a per capita basis—its pledge amounted to $60 per person—while Japan's $1.5 billion offer was the largest one-year dollar amount. The U.S. has pledged $3 billion over several years.

“I would call on other 10 countries to convert their contributions” to signed agreements pledging continued support, she said.

“Ten billion—it's a good start. However, we need to unlock levels far beyond that” to get near the $100 billion pledged, Cheikhrouhou said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dean Scott in Washington at dscott@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com