By Nina Chestney
LONDON (Reuters) - European Union ambassadors were due to meet on Wednesday in an effort to settle a dispute over the allocation of seats to member states on the United Nations' Green Climate Fund (GCF) board, sources close to the matter said.
U.N. climate talks in Durban last year agreed on the design of the fund, which is aimed at channeling up to $100 billion a year to help developing countries adapt to climate change.
Regional groups of countries are deciding which nations will represent them on the governing board of the fund, which will have 12 seats for developing countries and 12 for developed countries. There will also be 24 seats that will alternate among members.
Any delays in the board's organization could slow the process towards the fund's launch, which is expected in 2013.
The board's first meeting is set for next month to discuss where the fund will be located, where cash for the fund will come from and how it will be distributed.
A draft EU document for Wednesday's meeting, seen by Reuters, shows the EU's 27 member states and Switzerland might be able to obtain seven full seats plus associated alternating seats.
Thirteen countries are requesting a seat, wanting to ensure they have a say in the funding decisions.
Denmark, which holds the EU presidency, has proposed that Britain, Germany and France, as major contributors of finance, should hold a full seat and an alternating seat each.
Under the proposal, Spain, Italy and Belgium will rotate the fourth seat; Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic will do the same with a fifth; Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark will rotate a sixth seat and the final seat will be held by the EU Commission with Switzerland as an alternate member, the document shows.
The proposals were to be discussed at an EU Committee of Permanent Representatives meeting on Wednesday.
"The key contentious issue is whether the EU Commission should have a seat or not," one source said, under condition of anonymity.
"Some member states, like the UK, Germany and France, believe they should have one seat each and that the Commission has no right to a chair on the GCF, saying it is not a legal entity internationally to be able to do so."
Other member states favor all seats being shared.
The EU Commission was not immediately available to comment.
The EU has until March 31 to put forward its proposal on seat allocation to the Green Climate Fund but could miss this deadline if the matter is not resolved.
"The EU risks not being ready with a joint nomination and risks countries putting themselves forward to the U.N. separately after the deadline," the source said.
However, the fund is still an empty shell. U.N. climate talks last year did not manage to make solid progress on sources of finance. Out of the EU countries, Denmark has announced an intention to pledge around 13.2 million euros ($17.6 million).
"Other countries have indicated they will contribute but barely any concrete figures have been put forward," said Lies Craeynest, EU climate expert at Oxfam.
U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres said earlier this month that governments had not put forward specific numbers yet and those that will contribute to the fund's startup costs this year are identifying sources of finance and waiting for the board to be constituted.
($1 = 0.7506 euros)
(Editing by Anthony Barker)