Rich nations miss U.N. climate finance deadline

OSLO Fri May 6, 2011 10:29am EDT

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) activists light candles representing the earth as they demonstrate on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference COP16 in Cancun December 5, 2010. REUTERS/Gerardo Garcia

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) activists light candles representing the earth as they demonstrate on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference COP16 in Cancun December 5, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Gerardo Garcia

OSLO (Reuters) - Rich countries have missed a U.N. deadline for outlining aid to help developing nations combat climate change.

Among industrialized nations, only Russia and Ukraine sent letters to the United Nations by the May 1 deadline -- only to say they did not feel obliged to contribute under a deal to provide almost $30 billion in initial "fast-start" climate funds from 2010-12.

The lack of response is a setback to the deal, under which aid is meant to rise to $100 billion a year by 2020.

"There are too many empty multilateral accounts," said Colin Beck, representative of the Solomon Islands at the United Nations.

"Developed countries continue to teeter in honoring even their modest commitments," said Clifford Polycarp, of the Washington-based World Resources Institute, which tracks climate aid pledges.

At a meeting of almost 200 nations in Cancun, Mexico, in December, industrialized nations agreed to give details of their first fast-start funds by May 2011 as part of a wider deal that included a plan to set up a Green Climate Fund.

The website of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, which oversees commitments, only has letters from Moscow and Kiev. It spells out that it interprets "by May" to mean "by May 1."

But deadlines set by U.N. agencies are often flexible and rich nations are expected to submit details soon, Polycarp said.

The cash is meant to help developing nations curb their rising greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change, ranging from more droughts to rising sea levels.

But developed nations face problems in keeping pledges for 2010-12 aid, which now add up to about $30 billion. Japan is hardest hit, after the March earthquake and tsunami, while the United States and many others face budget cuts.

Rich nations promised new and additional climate funds at a 2009 summit in Copenhagen, and repeated the pledge in Cancun. Rich nations have done most to cause global warming, by emitting most greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution.

Beck said the uncertainty about the funds "summarizes the fragile trust and confidence that emerged from Cancun."

An international report this week said seas could rise by more than previously expected, up to 1.6 meters (5ft 3in) this century, a big worry for coastal communities and island states from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean.

The Cancun Agreements included a goal of limiting a rise in average world temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F) above pre-industrial times. Temperatures have already risen by about 0.7 degrees Celsius (1.1 F).

(Editing by Janet Lawrence)

(For Reuters latest environment blogs, click on: blogs.reuters.com/environment/)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
joshuawiese wrote:
important addendum:

Japan, while leading the charge to block a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, has just affirmed its intent to honor its pledge of $15 billion in “fast-start” finance made in Copenhagen in 2009 (reported by ClimateWire). While their position on Kyoto continues to draw deserved criticism, Japan should be commended for holding to their significant commitment of funds during this difficult time.

This disappointing news from Russia and Ukraine, especially in light of Japan’s reaffirmed commitment, leaves Moscow and Kiev well beyond the pale.

May 06, 2011 7:30pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
robert2222 wrote:
I guess the poor nations will have to come up with another scam.

May 09, 2011 10:51am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Photo

California's historic drought

With reservoirs at record lows, California is in the midst of the worst drought in decades.  Slideshow