COP21: Climate finance row burning bright as clock ticks on talks

Negotiations heat up as developed, developing and emerging economies get cold feet over long term funding figures



By Avik Roy in Paris

Over 130 developing countries signalled their anger at the lack of cash on offer from wealthier nations in a series of explosive interventions on Thursday in Paris.

The head of the G77 + China group, Ambassador Joyce Mxakato-Diseko, blamed a “special group” of developed countries for refusing to negotiate on finance.

“These are the countries that jumped out of the Kyoto Protocol at the slightest excuse,” she said. “We are tiptoeing around these countries… they bluster without responsibility.”

Diseko and the G77 are understood to be especially frustrated with the so-called ‘Umbrella’ group of countries, which includes the US, Australia, Japan, Canada and New Zealand.

Still, one developed country negotiator expressed surprise to Climate Home at the strength of her intervention. Diseko had not appeared so angry at a meeting earlier that day, they said.

In a separate press conference Pa Ousman Jarju, a Gambian diplomat representing the 48 strong Least Developed Countries group said the quality of finance on offer was insufficient.

“We cannot take loans. For us it needs to grant-based. We don’t want loans to be classified as climate finance,” he said. “We should have a common platform where we agree on the figures of finance.”

COP21: EU sidelined by US, China say experts

Delivery levels of finance are a fiercely contested aspect of these talks and one largely focused on trust rather than the real world, where potential low carbon investments run to trillions.

Poorer nations want evidence a 2009 pledge to provide them with $100 billion a year by 2020 to green their economies will be met.

In October, the OECD and Climate Policy Initiative published an assessment report that stated climate finance of $62 billion had been mobilised.

But some of the finance included – like loans, export credits and private sector contributions – has been fiercely contested. Linked to this, there is another debate over who should be classed as donors.

Many emerging economies like China already offer significant sums of finance to fellow developing countries, but there is a debate over whether this should be reflected in a new deal.

This was reflected by US lead negotiator Todd Stern on Wednesday, who said clarification over long term flows of finance was an “open and live question”.

He said the US agreed on “the notion of continuing to provide robust finance on the same kind of criteria as the pledge in 2009 so that it includes funding from all sources, all channels.

“But we also encourage countries in a position to do so to also provide finances,” he added.

COP21: Slow progress ‘frustrating’ says UN climate official

Seasoned analysts say they are unsurprised by the row – one of many likely to spark up over the coming days.

“This is standard week one behaviour, it’s important not to over-interpret” said Elliot Diringer, a former White House advisor who heads the Washington DC-based C2ES think tank.

“Countries are very reluctant to let any one issue get ahead of the other.”

Still, with two days of talks remaining before the French government expects a draft text, time is running out to settle what is said to be one of the vital issues at the talks.

Liz Gallagher from the London-based E3G think tank said negotiators were likely playing for time before senior officials arrived. “We are waiting for the ministers,” she said.

Read more on: COP21 | India |