Author: Nyla Sarwar

"Big heads" seek financing for climate change (Image: by Oxfam)

"Big Heads" seek financing for climate change (Image by: Oxfam)

An ambitious and positive draft text presented at the UN climate summit has failed to impress developing countries, who argue that more finance is needed to support their low carbon development and adaptation in some of the most vulnerable nations.

The so-called “long-term action plan text” believed to be much more positive that the “Danish text” leaked earlier in the week, sets GHG reduction targets for developed countries of around 25-45% by 2020 against a 1990 baseline. These targets are expected to be extremely ambitious, and will require the sequestration of already emitted atmospheric carbon, potentially limiting worldwide temperature increases to 1.5C – 2C. The text is now up for negotiation, and demands much stronger commitments from the developed counties, compared to figures already laid out on the table.

UK PM Gordon Brown has been actively engaged in the negotiations to encourage the EU to confirm its more ambitious commitment to reduce GHG emissions by 30% by 2020 against a 1990 baseline. It is expected that this will require the UK to contribute 40% emissions reductions by 2020, instead of the 34% share previously committed.

Gordon Brown has also been pivotal in negotiations among EU leaders to provide immediate finance for developing countries to adapt to climate change. Announcing that the EU would commit 7.2bn euros (£6.5bn, $10bn) for adaptation in developing countries over the next three years, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt reaffirmed Europe’s commitment to moving the Copenhagen negotiations closer to a global deal.

The UK’s promise, at £500m ($800m; 553m euros) a year, was the highest. Reports from Brussels suggest the German contribution will be 480m euros per year from 2010 to 2012. Earlier, Mr Brown and France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy told a joint news conference their two nations would contribute at least £1.5bn (1.7bn euros; $2.4bn) spread over the three years.

The money pledged is for a “fast start” fund to help the world’s poorest nations tackle rising sea levels, deforestation, water shortages and other consequences of climate change between 2010 and 2012, and reduce their own emissions.

The promised EU contribution will make up a sizeable portion of a proposed global figure of $10bn (7bn euros) annually.

Financial discussions in Brussels saw EU leaders during the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to consider a global tax on financial transactions to reduce the risks of a further financial crisis and raise funding for tackling climate change.

“The European Council encourages the IMF to consider the full range of options including insurance fees, resolution funds, contingent capital arrangements and a global financial transaction levy in its review,” the summit’s final statement said.

Whilst the text confirms the consensus between nations that halting forest protection is crucial, the details of measures to reduce deforestation are still al long way off. Developing countries are still demanding more funding from developed countries, and the details of a long term and fundamental financial package still remains hugely uncertain. The new text also requires developing countries to cut their carbon emissions by 15-30% by 2020 compared to BAU, and developing countries retired from the plenary requesting further time to digest the potential consequences of such commitments.

Additionally, reports suggest that the EU and US have finally agreed to a twin track deal which ensures that the Kyoto protocol – the only legally binding treaty that forces rich countries to cut emissions – continues at least until a new legal treaty is signed.

“This is very, very complicated. It’s tough because the world is trying to peak emissions. There is a long way to go. We are anxious and conscious of the scale of the challenge that remains,” said the UK climate and energy secretary, Ed Miliband.

The text will be negotiated in more detail next week, with details of a finance package and forest protection measures expected to dominate discussions. Developing countries will be calling for tougher commitments, and as Nasa scientist Jim Hansen recently commented – the climate agenda is not amenable to half measures. “It would be like saying, I’ll agree to cut 40% of slavery.”

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