Climate finance promises haunt Durban COP

6:41pm GMT: Today has seen a lot of pointing at the Guardian headline: “Rich nations give up on new climate treaty until 2020.”

Well, they can’t get away with that line on climate finance. The promise to build from current levels of support towards $100 billion per annum by 2020 is there in the Cancun agreements. Everyone signed up, including US.

Finance will one of the big stories in Durban. The rich countries cannot do nothing. There’s no wriggle room, short of outright default.

The UK-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) fired off an opening salvo today with its briefing on Adaptation Finance. It carefully identifies five areas of commitment to assist poorer countries in adapting to climate change, not one of which has yet been fulfilled.

It mentions the tendency for donors to offer support in loans rather than grants. On Friday the Bretton Woods Project issued a strongly worded attack on the World Bank’s Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience. A Nepal case study is described as “simply an injustice” for loading up debt on a country especially vulnerable to global warming.

The IIED study calls for greater transparency through a new funding register, concluding:

climate finance has been poorly reported and impossible to track and verify

In fairness the UN Secretariat has not been idle. Its new Fast-Start Finance Portal was launched on Friday.

8:20pm GMT: Serious business is already under way in Durban in the shape of the Executive Board meeting of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). This is the body that awards “certified emission reduction” credits for energy efficient projects in developing countries. These “UN credits” are fed into the carbon trading markets active mainly in Europe.

The Board meeting goes on all week and will cover some controversial items. Our Nov 14th post explained how the Board’s own advisers recommend that coal-fired power projects should no longer be approved. And similar recommendations exist for projects which replace hydrofluorocarbons, a potent greenhouse gas.

China and India stand to lose massive proceeds if these recommendations are upheld. And the carbon traders are hanging on every word (perhaps via the webcast of the meeting) because a reduction in supply of credits on this scale will affect market prices.

This is one of the interesting subplots to be played out in the Durban talks. The CDM is an instrument of the Kyoto Protocol. A lot of interests from richer countries are the contradictory position of wishing the end of the Protocol but continuation of the CDM.


this post was first published by OneWorld UK