Climate talks end with ‘substantial agreement’ on financing

By Dipankar De Sarkar, IANS,

London : Representatives of the world’s major economic powerhouses wound up two days of climate talks in London Monday after reporting “substantial agreement” on the prickly issue of financing actions to curb climate change.

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“There is significantly further to go, this is absolutely not a done deal, but I feel that today this feels a more doable proposition than it was yesterday,” British Energy and Climate Change Minister Ed Miliband said after the meeting of the Major Economies Forum (MEF).

The MEF, a grouping of 16 nations and the 27-state European Union, met informally to try and iron out long-standing differences ahead of a United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen in December.

Miliband said differences have been narrowed down on three key issues.

Although specific targets were not discussed, rich nations agreed to take on internationally-binding commitments while developing countries agreed to take domestic actions to cut the emission of harmful greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

Negotiators had also “moved forward” on the governance of the flow of finances to help developing countries counter climate change, with a “central role” given to the United Nations.

Countries also agreed to significantly scale up public financing as part of an overall agreement.

Two years of talks have been stalled by a dispute between the US and major developing countries such as India, China and Brazil.

While the US wants developing countries to agree to internationally-binding cuts on their emissions, developing countries say the demand is unfair and could affect their economic growth, arguing climate change has been caused primarily by rich nations.

The issue of finances has been equally contentious, with experts estimating hundreds of billions of dollars are needed to help developing countries counter climate change – far more than currently on offer.

Developing countries have also objected to international monitoring of their actions and emission levels.

US Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern underlined the US position Monday, saying “the capacity of the world to get where we will go… is going to be enormously more determined by what happens in China and other developing countries.”

Stern, who co-chaired the meeting with Miliband, said 97 percent of the growth in greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2030 will come from the developing world, and in 2030 developing countries will account for around two-thirds of all emissions.

A communique from the MEF said there was agreement that all countries except the poorest will provide regular national emissions inventories but that such “transparency mechanisms” would “respect the sovereignty of countries.”

The discussions on finance will be advanced at a G20 finance ministers’ meeting in St. Andrews, Scotland, in November.

The MEF comprises Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Britain and the United States.

The talks were also attended by officials from the UN and Denmark, ministerial observers from Lesotho and the Maldives, and additional observers from Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, and Norway.