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Clashes over financing threat UN climate talks

Source : AP
Last Updated: Wed, Dec 05, 2012 19:15 hrs

The world's poorest nations on Wednesday called for significant financing to cope with the impacts of global warming, setting up a potential clash with rich countries that could slow progress on reaching a global climate pact by 2015.

Rich countries, including the United States, said at U.N. climate talks in Doha that they have fulfilled promises to provide more than $30 billion the past three years and remain committed to providing $100 billion a year by 2020. But developing nations want that financing increased gradually starting next year — a commitment the European Union, United States and Japan are not willing to make.

"Obviously developing countries think it should be an upward curve," Brazil's chief negotiator Andre Correa do Lago told reporters. "The best solution would be a straightforward commitment to an increase every year of resources until 2020."

Pa Ousman Jarju, chairman of the 48-member Least Developed Countries at the talks, said it was too early to say the disputes over financing could spill over to other areas of negotiations, including the extension of the Kyoto Protocol, which will expire this year, and a work plan to prepare for the 2015 deal.

Among the financing demands from developing countries is a financial roadmap through 2020 as well as the mechanism —whether it be a financial tax or a transport tax — to generate the necessary funds.

"We would we want to see finance on the table as we leave here," Jarju said. "It's not a negotiating tactic. It's part of package that we expect in Doha. ... They understand implications of us not having a finance package. I will not call it a failure as of now because all our delegations are engaged."

The European Union's Peter Betts, sitting on the same panel as Jarju, was unmoved. He said EU member states would make their own pledges — the United Kingdom on Tuesday offered â,7/82.2 billion ($2.87 billion) in climate financing through 2015 and Germany â,7/81.8 billion ($2.35 billion) in 2013 — but that a near-term target of financing from the EU would not be forthcoming at this meeting.

"These are tough financial times in Europe, as I'm sure you have noticed," Betts said. "We, as other developed countries, are not in position at this meeting to agree on a target for 2015."

The American negotiator Jonathan Pershing agreed.

"The commitment in the first part was a voluntary agreement on the part of donor countries to collectively provide something approaching $30 billion and we exceeded that commitment. The second part was to mobilize $100 billion by 2020 and we are working on that," Pershing said. "To me, the question of whether there are new commitments that get announced here is not the right question. The question really is did we do the first one and the answer is yes. Are we working on the second? The answer is yes."

The bickering over financing is the latest clash between rich and poor nations over the past decade that have undermined efforts to reach a deal that would keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 C (3.6 F), compared to preindustrial times. Temperatures have already risen about 0.8 C (1.4 F), according to the latest report by the IPCC and a recent projection by the World Bank showed temperatures are expected to increase by up to 4 C (7.2 F) by 2100.

Earlier in the day, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told The Associated press that it was "only fair and reasonable that the developed world should bear most of the responsibility" in fighting the gradual warming of the planet.

Ban's comments echoed the concerns of China and other developing countries, which say rich nations have a historical responsibility for global warming because their factories released carbon emissions into the atmosphere long before the climate effects were known.

"The climate change phenomenon has been caused by the industrialization of the developed world," Ban told The Associated Press. "It's only fair and reasonable that the developed world should bear most of the responsibility."

Many rich nations, including the U.S. and EU countries, are demanding the 2015 pact include commitments from developing nations who are expected to produce the bulk of emissions in the decades ahead. Among them is China, which has overtaken the United States as the world's largest emitter.

"Rich countries will need to do more than poor countries, that is clear," EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told The AP. "But all of us will have to do the maximum we can because otherwise we can't cope with climate change."

How to divide the burden of emissions cuts is at the core of discussions to create a new global climate treaty that would apply to all nations. The only binding pact so far, the Kyoto Protocol, only covers the emissions of industrialized countries. Last year, governments agreed to reach a deal by 2015 that would go into effect by 2020.

"This deadline must be met. There is no time to waste, no time to lose for us," Ban said.

"Climate change is happening much, much faster than one would understand," he added. "The science has plainly made it clear: it is the human beings' behavior which caused climate change, therefore the solution must come from us."

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Associated Press writer Karl Ritter contributed to this report.

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Michael Casey is reachable at https://twitter.com/mcasey1 and Karl Ritter at www.twitter.com/karl_ritter



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