Rich nations stalling on climate finance: Developing bloc

This Sept 17, 2015 file photo shows boat docks sitting empty on dry land, as Folsom Lake reservoir near Sacramento stands at only 18 per cent capacity, as the severe drought continues in California.
This Sept 17, 2015 file photo shows boat docks sitting empty on dry land, as Folsom Lake reservoir near Sacramento stands at only 18 per cent capacity, as the severe drought continues in California.PHOTO: AFP

BONN (AFP) - Developing nations accused rich countries of stonewalling on finance in UN negotiations for a global climate rescue pact on Thursda (Oct 22), an issue they said threatens the entire effort.

The G77 bloc of developing countries, representing 80 per cent of the world's population, wants an agreement that puts the onus on richer powers to provide money to rein in global warming and cope with its effects.

But the bloc said rich nations were deliberately putting off the discussion so that responsibility for finance ends up in the lap of lenders and donors outside the UN climate system.

"On finance... developed countries have not negotiated, in the hope that it will be sorted (out) external to the agreement, where we are weakest," G77 chairwoman Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko of South Africa told journalists.

But European Commission negotiator Elina Bardram, insisted "the world is not like it was in the 1990s".

Twenty years ago the UN climate convention put an obligation on industrialised nations - historically the main source of greenhouse gas pollution - to "provide new and additional financial resources" to developing nations.

"Capital concentration has changed and evolved radically. I am speaking specifically about many emerging economies," Bardram told AFP.

Today, "South-South cooperation is a much more prominent feature of international financial flows," she said.

'MONEY IS KEY'

Mxakato-Diseko spoke sceptically of a bid to "expand the pool of so-called donors of climate aid and narrow the list of eligible developing countries to receive support." The South African climate ambassador also described efforts to "shift the burden" to the private sector, and noted the dangers.

"When we have market failures such as we had in 2008, they are dramatic - imagine a global meltdown in a context where we've shifted the burden for the provision of finance to the private sector," she said.

Rich nations were seeking to "surreptitiously" get out from under obligations placed on them in the 1995 UN climate convention guiding the talks in Bonn, she added, pointing to the exclusion of civil society observers from negotiating sessions.

"That's where they hope they will get away with it," she said. "Beneath the darkness, where there is no scrutiny from civil society, the hope is that our will will be bent so much that we are tired, we give up." The climate deal to be signed at a November 30-December 11 UN summit in Paris would crown more than two decades of fraught negotiations.

Diplomats are in Bonn until Friday to hammer out a blueprint for the deal, but negotiators and observers have lamented the slow pace of work.

A key obstacle is developing nations' insistence that rich ones help pay for the shift from cheap and abundant coal to renewable energy.

At least as much money is needed, they say, to shore up defences against climate change-related events such as superstorms, droughts and rising seas.

"Money is key," said Ahmed Djoghlaf, one of two diplomats guiding the combative negotiations.

"We need money to win the climate battle. The G77 said clearly we cannot move it we don't have a clear understanding on finance."

Mxakato-Diseko said the finance onus had to be enshrined in a legally-binding text to provide certainty for developing nations whose budgets are focused on education and poverty-eradication.

"Otherwise we are left to the whim of charity, the whim of individual countries to decide if and when (to pay), depending on the circumstances," the envoy said.

But the negotiating gap remains wide.

"Finance is probably going to remain unresolved until the last stretch in Paris," said Bardram.