Ban Ki-moon weighs into finance debate at Doha climate talks

By John Parnell
RTCC in Doha

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the Green Climate Fund (GCF) will be an empty achievement until it can start delivering funds, and has called on rich countries to indicate how it will ramp up towards its target of raising $100bn a year.

Addressing the world’s press alongside UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, Ban, who arrived at the UN climate talks yesterday, warned of complacency and said the institution would only be able to lead low carbon growth if it had strong financial backing.

“The GCF will be established in Songdo in the Republic of Korea, this is largely an empty shell at this time, even though the short term finance promised in Copenhagen has already been disbursed and expires at the end of this month,” said Ban.

As expected finance is proving to be a critical issue at the climate change negotiations in Doha. Few new funds are expected to be placed on the table, although there are rumours that hosts Qatar may have an announcement later today.

Oxfam’s delegation head Kelly Dent described it as ‘make or break’ for practically every developing nation attending the talks. Poor countries and those most vulnerable to climate change are calling for long term certainty on how the GCF will “mobilise” $100bn a year from 2020.

The word mobilise ensures that the onus is not on governments to provide all the money directly with the private sector expected to provide much of the necessary funding.

Ban Ki-moon Press Conference from Responding to Climate Change on Vimeo.

Finance is also clogging up progress in the Long term Cooperative Action (LCA), whoch turn is holding up work on the new global deal on emission reductions, the Durban Platform.

Yesterday a group of institutional investors warned that conditions requested by spme big emerging economies that all investments from the GCF be vetted by the UN, are unacceptable. They went as far as to say that this would strangle the GCF at birth.

Developing countries have also asked for a roadmap to demonstrate how they will gradually increase the level of funds going into the GCF, a step not welcomed by developed countries.

Ban however, believes there is a role for such a plan.

“It is important that developing countries, especially those that are poor and vulnerable, are presented with a roadmap on how this commitment on long term financing will be met. This is a matter of credibility of member states and an issue from which we can give a sense of hope,” said Ban.

“This is especially important in promoting the legally binding agreement by 2015,” he added.

There are more immediate concerns on where finance will come from between now and the start of the work of the GCF, scheduled to issue money in late 2014 at the earliest.

The existing three year, $30bn Fast Start Finance period concludes at the end of the month.

The UK yesterday announced how it will distribute funds in the post FSF era, the first to do so, in the hope to catalyse efforts from other nations, and some goodwill from recipient countries.

UK secretary of state for energy and climate change Ed Davey also said that he could see why some nations wanted more than verbal reassurances on finance.

He opened the door to finding new wording in the agreements in Doha that stopped short of issuing quantified financial pledges, but would provide more certainty for vulnerable nations.

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