191 countries. Wildly differing priorities. Scientific uncertainty. Limited budgets. Short timescales. It’s no wonder that reaching agreements at international climate negotiations is difficult.

But depressingly, making agreements is actually the easy bit: keeping to them can be much, much harder.

Take this week’s report by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), a research organisation based in London and Brussels. It strongly criticises the EU and its member states for failing to keep promises they made back in 2001.

The report centres on the Bonn Agreement, a joint declaration made by the then-members of the EU and a handful of other countries. The Agreement was an undertaking by those countries to provide USD410million per year of climate change funding for developing countries. According to the IEEP, the understanding was that this would be proportional to the CO2 emissions of the each of the parties, leaving the EU countries with a USD361million annual commitment between them.

It was agreed that money could flow through a number of different channels, including a number of funds administered through the UN’s Global Environmental Facility (GEF). Trying to describe the funds quickly turns into something resembling the results of a food-fight with alphabetti spaghetti – before you know it you’re wallowing in SCCFs or KPAFs and LDCFs. Anyone keen to learn more is encouraged to read the IEEP’s report.*

While the details are complicated, the IEEP’s conclusions are simple. The EU’s USD361million annual contribution was supposed to be in place by 2005. But the report’s authors found that

  • There is little transparency on behalf of the signatories on how much they have actually contributed;
  • The limited information that is available suggests that the EU is delivering less than the annual amount it pledged each year under the Agreement.

The IEEP concludes that the lack of transparency over its compliance with the Bonn Agreement is ‘clearly inconsistent with the EU’s claim to global leadership in the climate change process’.

Coming as it does along with criticism from the WWF the previous week, this report may hint that EU’s (perceived) obligations to the developing world will be an area of political pressure as it approaches the Copenhagen negotiations in December.  And despite all the complexities of funding mechanisms and development aid mechanisms, the EU will also need to find a convincing way to demonstrate that it really is putting money where its mouth is.

*For those who love acronyms but don’t want to read the report – the SCCF, KPAF and LDCFs are just funds for LDC actions agreed at the UNFCCC COP6bis and COP7 which are administered by the GEF. KPAF is funded by a CER levy. See? Simple.

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