African Group questions “motives” of rich nations in Doha

By John Parnell

Mixed messages over finance and emission pledges are eroding trust at the UN climate talks, according to the chair of the African Group of Negotiators.

With an apparent deadlock in a number of issues as the first week of the talks comes to a close, Swaziland’s Dr Emmanuel Dlamini said there was a mismatch between what some richer nations had promised and what they were prepared to put on the table in Doha.

The EU has already said it cannot make any firm commitments to future finance in Doha, while stressing that many states have already met their obligations and have contributions budgeted in for 2013.

But Dlamini claims there is an imminent gap in financial support to help vulnerable nations adapt and mitigate to climate change, and argues the trust deficit this generates needs to be resolved.

“Developed countries are saying there is no fiscal cliff, so developing countries say ok then, but lets have a decision that will help us move forward. I think if there was enough good faith, that shouldn’t be difficult,” he said.

African negotiators are concerned about the lack of trust at the Doha climate change talks. (Source: Flickr/UNFCCC)

The current period of Fast Start Finance (FSF) ends this year and its long term replacement, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) is unlikely to start issuing support till 2014 at the earliest.

Many developed parties, including Norway, Japan and the EU, have met or exceeded their targets for FSF, which promised a total of $30bn from 2010-2012. The EU insists that there is money budgeted for support to continue and RTCC understands that the US also intends to maintain its climate finance at current levels.

However, African countires would prefer to see more concrete pledges.

“They are saying ‘we’ll continue with FSF, there’ll be no cliff, well keep providing funds’, so it’s difficult when we ask for a [formal] decision and they say they are just giving assurances. So you start saying are we negotiating in good faith?”

“The negotiations greatest challenge is building trust. To a certain extent, the trust that is there, if it is there [at all], is not sufficient enough to make us agree to make a successful outcome. When there is no trust among people then the good faith is damaged,” added Dlamini.

There was further evidence of low ambition, this time in terms of emission reduction pledges rather than finance, causing discontent among the countries most vulnerable to climate change.

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) called current pledges from the few nations making commitments under the Kyoto Protocol “deeply inadequate”, adding that the lack of ambition could jeopardise the longer term replacement for Kyoto, the Durban Platform.

The US in particular has come under fire with a coalition of NGOs including Oxfam calling for it to “reset the clock on its climate policy”.

Ministers arrive on Monday to settle many of the unresolved issues left from the first week of talks which conclude on Saturday before taking a rest day.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said the amount of unfinished business draft texts churned out late on Saturday meant once negotiators had finished reading them they faced “a short Sunday”.

RTCC Video: EU negotiator Artur Runge-Metzger insists the bloc will continue to provide climate finance beyond 2012

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