Climate finance row slows UN talks as time runs short for Paris

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 23, 2015 10:13 AM

By Alister Doyle and Megan Rowling

BONN, Germany (Reuters) - Disputes over financing for poor nations hampered negotiations on Friday among almost 200 countries racing against the clock to seal an accord on combating global warming at a U.N. climate summit in Paris in December.

Some delegates said they feared a repeat of the 2009 summit in Copenhagen when governments last tried, and failed, to agree a deal, though many others said they remained confident of a breakthrough at the Nov. 30-Dec. 11 meeting in Paris.

"We are extremely worried about the pace," Amjad Abdulla, who speaks on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said on the last day of week-long U.N. talks in Bonn, the final preparatory session for Paris.

"Many issues are still far from where they need to be," echoed Elina Bardram, who heads the European Commission delegation. An updated draft text of an accord on Friday covers 55 pages and has 1,490 brackets, marking points of disagreement.

Developing nations insist climate finance is the core issue, and all sides reported scant progress on the issue in Bonn.

Poor nations want clear promises of rising contributions from industrialised nations beyond an existing goal of $100 billion by 2020, from public and private sources, to help them curb greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to changes such as floods and droughts.

Rich nations led by the United States and the European Union want to make vaguer pledges beyond 2020 and for Paris to include new donors such as China, now outside the $100 billion plan, which last month pledged $3 billion for developing nations.

The Christian Aid group said a Paris deal was close, "but climate finance is the elephant in the room".

Friday's draft accord expanded to 55 pages from 20 at the start of the week after many nations re-inserted national demands on issues ranging from cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to ways to police an agreement.

"Developing countries need Paris to be a success. We have no other option. For developing countries, climate change is a matter of life and death," said Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, South Africa's delegate, who speaks on behalf of more than 130 developing nations and China.

Nations were also split over how far the Paris text should include a new mechanism for loss and damage, meant to help emerging nations cope with the impact of droughts, hurricanes and rising sea levels.

"Finance and loss and damage - it's like a brick wall," said Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

(Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Gareth Jones/Ruth Pitchford)