(Updates with additional pledges)
DOHA (AlertNet) - Developing states have said they will continue to push for a 2015 target for climate finance at U.N. negotiations in Doha, despite firm indications from the European Union and the United States that rich nations will not commit to a collective figure at the talks.
“These are difficult financial times... many (EU) member states are in difficult financial circumstances, so I think that we, as other developed countries, are not going to be in a position at this meeting to agree any kind of target for 2015," Pete Betts, a senior British negotiator representing the EU, told reporters.
"But it's certainly clear that a number of member states are committed to maintaining and in some cases increasing their climate finance,” he added.
Rich governments are under pressure to say how much money they are willing to provide from 2013 for poorer states to cope with more extreme weather and rising seas and help them follow a clean development path. A first three-year period of more than $30 billion in "fast start" aid finishes at the end of this year, but donors have yet to give details of how they will scale up efforts to reach an agreed goal of $100 billion a year in public and private finance by 2020.
Nonetheless, some European nations have indicated in Doha how much climate finance they are prepared to provide for 2013 and 2014.
On Tuesday, Britain said it has budgeted £1.8 billion ($2.9 billion) over the next two fiscal years, ending in March 2015. And on Wednesday, Germany said it will increase its climate finance to 1.8 billion euros ($2.35 billion) in 2013, up from 1.4 billion euros in 2012, and said it plans the same amount for 2014. France said it will give 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion) for 2013 and 2014, while Sweden announced a contribution of 2.5 billion Swedish krona ($400 million) for next year.
Denmark will give 500 million krone ($87.5 million) in aid in 2013, officials said, and the European Commission will also provide 900 million euros ($1.18 billion) next year, an EC spokesman told Reuters Point Carbon.
“Germany’s pledge is a welcome boost to these Doha talks at a difficult moment in the negotiations on climate finance, but it’s critical now that they work with other developed countries to make such agreements collectively in the text of the Doha agreements by the end of the week,” said Jan Kowalzig, Oxfam Germany's climate change policy advisor.
Of the British contribution, announced before the others, Ronny Jumeau, U.N. Ambassador for the Seychelles, told journalists on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS): "Thank god someone's doing something... at least someone has stepped forward and put a figure on the table." He urged others to follow suit "so at least we'll be arguing about figures, not arguing about nothing".
Pa Ousman Jarju, chair of the Least Developed Countries Group, said negotiators from the 48 nations he represents are continuing to seek a mid-term commitment for 2015 as part of a wider package to be agreed at the talks in Qatar, and he is convinced rich nations will deliver.
"It may not be of the (amount) we are expecting... but figures will be on the table, and without any figures on the table we will not have a package," he said, adding that he did expect a package to be approved at the Doha talks, which are due to end on Friday.
The United States has refused to comment on how much climate finance it will provide from next year onwards, saying rather that it is working towards the 2020 goal.
"The current discussions obligated us to look at a 2020 number - that's what we agreed to do. They committed us, as a down-payment in good faith, to look at a $30 billion collective effort (from 2010-2012), and we have done more than that. In that sense, we are doing what we agreed to do, and what we committed to," U.S. negotiator Jonathan Pershing said.
The United States is now in the process of looking at its budget for 2013. "There is every intention of continuing to support climate finance in the context of that budget," he added.
'CLEAR ROAD MAP'
On Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Doha talks should agree on mid-term financing for 2015, as part of a "clear road map" to the 2020 target.
Helen Clark, head of the U.N. Development Programme, told AlertNet she also supports a collective goal for 2015.
"To get to $100 billion by 2020, you have to start moving up towards that - there's not going to be a magic cheque written in 2020. So in that sense, the mid-term benchmark target should reflect what would need to happen for $100 billion to be realistic," she said.
It should be more ambitious than a doubling of fast start funding, she added. That amount is the minimum developing countries and aid groups have called for.
Ideally, for poor countries, most of the finance would come in the form of grants rather loans, Clark said. "But we're looking for grant money at the very time when Western economies are in their sickest period since the Great Depression, so it's a big ask," she noted.
Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, said numerical targets were unlikely at Doha in the absence of more dramatic advances at the negotiations.
"The rich countries have every incentive to try to create an atmosphere of sufficient trust so that we can move forward, and that would be some broad statement that we would continue at the current level (of finance) at least, but in terms of anything more ambitious, they are clearly going to want to see more progress, including on the Green Climate Fund," he said.
Donors have indicated that they are only willing to start making large-scale pledges to the fledgling Green Climate Fund once its rules have been decided on, and it is ready to start operating. That is expected to happen later next year.
(Additional reporting by Reuters Point Carbon)