Paris (AFP) Feb 1, 2010
The world's major carbon polluters have reaffirmed commitments to combat global warming, providing a much-needed boost to December's Copenhagen Accord.
But more than a month after the nearly scuttled climate deal, rich nations have yet to say when and how they will deliver emergency funds to help poor ones begin to green their economies and cope with climate impacts.
The 30 billion dollars in so-called "fast start" financing is meant to cover the period 2010 to 2012.
Stitched together at the 11th hour by leaders from a handful of nations led by the United States and China, the controversial Copenhagen agreement fell well short of the binding and comprehensive climate treaty once hoped for.
The UN climate forum shepherding the talks "took note" of its provisions, inviting its 194 member nations to endorse them by Sunday, January 31, and to list the actions they plan for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.
Surprises are unlikely. Countries accounting for three-quarters of global emissions -- including China, the United States, European Union and India -- have renewed carbon-cutting pledges made in the run-up to the December summit.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will release both lists this week, possibly later Monday, officials have said.
But registering the commitments is widely seen as a critical step in jump-starting the troubled negotiations.
"The machine has been forcefully set in motion, it's going to put some new wind in our sails," commented French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo.
"The will is there, even if we will certainly face new difficulties and obstacles," he told AFP by telephone from Beijing, where he was meeting with his Chinese counterparts.
The Copenhagen Accord calls for limiting warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
Scientists warn that beyond that threshold lies a devastating scenario of increased flooding, drought, extreme weather and uncontrollable forest fires.
"This is the first time that countries have ever committed to this goal. That's the good news," said Alden Meyer, a policy analyst at the Washington-based Union of Concerned Scientists.
"The bad news, of course, is that the pledges that have been put on the table to date don't put us on track to meet that goal, and would make it very difficult -- both economically and politically -- after 2020 to catch up," Meyer told journalists in a phone briefing.
The accord also commits developed countries to paying out 10 billion dollars per year to developing nations over the next three years, to be ramped up to 100 billion dollars annually by 2020.
"But it remains far from clear where the funding will come from, if it is genuinely new and additional, and how it will be allocated," said Saleemul Huq, a researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development in London.
Many of the poor nations most vulnerable to climate change complained of being sidelined in Copenhagen, and delays in providing the financing could increase tensions as talks proceed, he suggested.
Japan has taken the lead in promising some 15 billion dollars over the next three years, while the European Union has said it will stump up 10 billion.
The United States has yet to announce what share of the 30 billion it will shoulder, but analysts say it is likely to be substantially less, in the 3.5 to 4.5 billion range.
The 3.8 trillion dollar budget unveiled Monday in Washington is thought to contain provisions for 2011.
But so far none of this money has materialised.
"Looking at past experience of overseas development aid and climate funding, it may take several years to disburse even the 'fast-start' finance promised for 2010 to 2012," Huq said.
Borloo agreed that it would take some time to get the wheels turning.
"All the mechanisms have yet to be invented," he said of the 30-billion dollar fund.
"Simple bilateral aid is out of the question. We have to invent a new partnership and establish the fast-start modalities."
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India reaffirms opposition to binding carbon cuts
New Delhi (AFP) Jan 31, 2010
India reaffirmed to the United Nations that it would reject any attempt to impose legally binding climate change goals, but pledged to reduce emissions intensity. In an endorsement of December's much-criticised Copenhagen Accord, the environment ministry in New Delhi said it had submitted plans to reduce emissions intensity by 20 to 25 percent by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. India's pro ... read more
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