Hopes pinned on finance at U.N. climate talks

OSLO Fri May 29, 2009 8:09am EDT

The summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the world's largest volcanoes and the highest free-standing mountain, is seen from the Barranco Wall camp, in Tanzania January 2, 2006. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

The summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the world's largest volcanoes and the highest free-standing mountain, is seen from the Barranco Wall camp, in Tanzania January 2, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Darrin Zammit Lupi

OSLO (Reuters) - About 170 nations will meet in Germany next week to work on a new United Nations climate treaty with hopes for progress pinned most on ways to raise billions of dollars to help poor nations cope with global warming.

The June 1-12 talks between senior officials in Bonn will be the first to review formal draft texts about a sweeping U.N. deal due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December to involve all countries in fighting global warming.

Over 120 pages of draft texts indicate deadlock between rich and poor nations on a core dispute over how to share out curbs on greenhouse gases, released mainly by use of fossil fuels.

To avoid that standoff, finance could be an area to build confidence.

"One thing that can usefully be done is finance -- working out how funds can be mobilized for developing nations would be a huge positive influence on the negotiations," Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, told Reuters.

"If there's no movement on emissions then maybe an agreement can be made on finance," he said.

The Bonn meeting is the second of six U.N. climate talks due this year, including Copenhagen.

Developing nations such as China and India say the rich have stoked warming since the Industrial Revolution and should do far more to cut emissions by 2020.

Hit by recession, developed nations are wary of promising deeper cuts.

Seventeen major emitters said they made progress in Paris this week on how to find cash to help the poor rein in emissions and adapt to climate change, based on a Mexican proposal for a "Green Fund" that would raise at least $10 billion a year.

GREEN FUND

The Mexican plan foresees raising cash from all nations, based on factors such as their historic and present emissions and gross domestic product. That would make the United States and Europe the top contributors.

Cash would go to projects including wind or solar power or to protecting forests as part of the global deal meant to prevent ever more heatwaves, floods, disease, species extinctions and rising sea levels.

With time running short ahead of Copenhagen, analysts say many details of the new deal to succeed the existing Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 may be left vague.

"Everyone agrees that there is going to be a lot of work to be done after Copenhagen, no matter what," said Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Options in some of the draft texts -- for instance whether to allow credits for investments in capturing and storing emissions from coal-fired power plants in developing nations -- include simply putting off decisions until 2010 or even 2011.

"We hope that delegates will take the strong elements that have been proposed rather than the weak ones," said Kim Carstensen, of the WWF environmental group.

With wrong choices, "there is the opportunity to get a really rotten deal," he said.

On greenhouse gases, China and India want the rich to cut emissions from factories, power plants and cars by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

By contrast, a bill passed by a key U.S. congressional panel last week would cut U.S. emissions by just 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 -- equivalent to 4 percent below 1990 levels -- and by 83 percent by 2050.

(Editing by Sophie Hares)