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Money key to unlocking new U.N. climate deal, activists say

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:30 GMT
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An Assa Abloy lock and key are displayed in a shop in Riga, Latvia, on September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
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LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Rich nations must come up with substantial pledges of fresh climate finance in the next six months to build the trust needed for U.N. negotiations to reach a new global climate deal in Paris next year, officials and activists said after the latest round of talks ended in Bonn at the weekend.

Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said governments should put money into the recently established U.N. Green Climate Fund (GCF) "as early as possible and with at least an initial $10 billion" to underpin progress at the annual conference in Lima at the end of this year and success in Paris in 2015.

The fund's board recently agreed rules for how it will operate, and is due to start the process of finding money to fill it at a meeting this month. The GCF is expected to channel a large portion of the $100 billion a year wealthy countries have promised to mobilise by 2020 to help vulnerable states adapt to climate change and pursue low-carbon growth.

"Following a recent agreement to activate the Green Climate Fund, calls for developed countries to contribute financial resources to the GCF could be heard loud and clear throughout Bonn's negotiating halls," said Sven Harmeling, CARE International's climate change advocacy coordinator.

"We want to see $15 billion invested in the GCF over the next few years – and half of that sum should be spent on adaptation with a real focus on assisting the most vulnerable communities... On top of that, developed countries have committed to scale up climate finance beyond the GCF, which is also vitally important,” he said.

Wealthy governments have provided climate aid worth roughly $10 billion a year since 2010, although there are fears that amount may be falling. Some have indicated they will put money into the GCF, but pledges have yet to be made beyond cash for the fund's own running costs.

BUILDING BLOCK

Harjeet Singh, international coordinator for climate adaptation with ActionAid International, described climate finance as "the key that will unlock a lot of things” at the climate talks.

Funding “will change the entire environment, and the environment will become far more positive, and you will be able to rebuild trust before Paris," he added.

Singh said many developing countries are pushing for the contributions all nations will have to make to a new global climate deal to include promises to fund and provide technical assistance for their efforts because "they need to be supported".

His colleague Brandon Wu, a senior policy analyst, expressed disappointment with the lack of money for the Green Climate Fund so far.

"We've got the vehicle ready and had hoped this session of talks (in Bonn) would put the key in the ignition, but unfortunately the climate finance commitments made previously are still outstanding," Wu said.

At the close of the Bonn talks, Ambassador Marlene Moses, chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a group of 44 low-lying and coastal countries that are highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, described finance as "an integral building block of the 2015 agreement".

"The 2015 agreement must contain commitments by developed country parties and provisions to ensure scaled-up, adequate long term, predictable, new and additional finance to support mitigation and adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change in developing countries," she said.

POSITIVE ATMOSPHERE

Although there were few headline announcements from the latest round of talks, Martin Kaiser, head of international climate politics for Greenpeace, described the atmosphere as "quite constructive and forward-looking". He told journalists there was now "much more clarity on the structure and elements" for a new global deal.

In a statement issued by the UNFCCC after the meeting, Kishan Kumarsingh and Artur Runge-Metzger, co-chairs of the working group tasked with constructing the 2015 agreement, which will become effective from 2020, said a cooperative and positive mood in Bonn had "translated into a significant step forward towards the elements of a draft treaty that needs to be a key outcome by the end of the year in Lima, Peru".

A paper they aim to produce and release in July outlining those elements will provide the basis for the next week-long session of U.N. talks in Bonn in October. That is preceded by a world leader's summit on climate change convened by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on September 23.

U.N. climate chief Figueres said the Bonn meeting "may perhaps go down as a point in time where governments showed new and higher levels of cooperation and positivity towards a meaningful agreement in Paris and the goal of limiting a global temperature rise to under 2 degrees Celsius”.

The session also highlighted opportunities for cities and smarter use of land to accelerate and expand action on climate change, she noted. This, together with a focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy at talks in March, "is building confidence, raising pre-2020 ambition and triggering calls for greater policy and financial support to realise these transformations,” she added.

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