Progress Seen On "Green Fund" For Climate Deal
Author: Alister Doyle
Almost 50 nations made progress on Friday toward a "Green Fund" to help poor countries fight global warming but hosts Mexico and Switzerland said a full U.N. climate treaty was out of reach for 2010.
Environment ministers and senior officials meeting in Geneva also examined how to raise a promised $100 billion a year in climate aid from 2020 -- perhaps from carbon markets, higher plane fares or taxes on shipping -- to be managed by the Fund.
"We think we should be able to establish the Green Fund in the conference in Cancun," Mexico's Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa said after the informal September 2-3 talks among 46 nations in Geneva.
Mexico will host an annual U.N. climate meeting in Cancun from November 29-December 10. A Green Fund is meant to help poor nations shift from fossil fuels and cope with projected floods, droughts, mudslides and rising seas caused by climate change.
Espinosa said any deal in Cancun would fall short of a treaty, part of a lowering of hopes after the U.N.'s Copenhagen summit in 2009 agreed only a non-binding deal. Cancun might decide to build any deals into a treaty, perhaps in 2011.
"We created a lot of expectations in Copenhagen that we would get a comprehensive, legally binding solution. We are no longer fixated on that," Swiss Environment Minister Moritz Leuenberger told a news conference with co-host Espinosa.
FORESTS, CLEAN TECH
Espinosa said a Green Fund would only be agreed as part of a broad package in Cancun, including ways to share clean-energy technologies or protect carbon-absorbing forests. She said all elements of the package had to be agreed, or none.
U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern told a news conference that the meeting had been "pretty constructive."
"The biggest issue is...this has to be part of a package. We are not going to move on the Green Fund, and the $100 billion, if issues central to the Copenhagen Accord, including mitigation and transparency, don't also move," he said.
Stern also reiterated that President Barack Obama was committed to cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 even though the Senate has failed to pass legislation. The United States is the only major developed nation with no legal cap.
Connie Hedegaard, the European Union's climate commissioner, said that there was "some convergence" on the Green Fund but little sign of movement on underlying issues from China and the United States, the top greenhouse gas emitters.
"We've seen nothing new coming out of the U.S., nothing new coming out of China. So we have to be very practical," she said of a focus on steps that fall short of a treaty.
Earlier, the Netherlands launched a U.N.-backed website (www.faststartfinance.org) to try to track how far rich nations, struggling with austerity, are able to keep a pledge made in Copenhagen to give poor nations $30 billion in "new and additional" climate aid from 2010-12.
Christiana Figueres, the U.N.'s climate chief, said the cash was a "golden key" to convince poor nations that the rich were serious in taking the lead to curb global warming. Under the Copenhagen Accord, flows would surge to $100 billion a year from 2020.
So far, the website lists cash promises by 6 European donors including Germany and Britain and 27 recipients from Bangladesh to the Marshall Islands. Stern said Washington would submit U.S. data in coming weeks.
Many of the developing nations' sites, listing cash received, are blank.
(Editing by Peter Graff)