The United Nations hopes delegates attending global climate talks in Durban, South Africa, will agree on the design of a multi-billion-dollar fund to help poorer nations green their economies and adapt to more chaotic weather.
Formally launching the Green Climate Fund would be a boost for the U.N.-led negotiations that have largely stalled on efforts to agree tougher steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are heating up the planet and will bring more extreme weather.
Delegates involved in designing the fund over the past year say most of the disagreements have been resolved but some issues remain for the November 28-December 9 talks in Durban.
Following are details of the fund and the main sticking points.
FUND'S DESIGN AND PURPOSE
Poorer countries, particularly in parts of Africa, Asia and small island nations, are the most vulnerable to rising sea levels and more intense droughts and floods that could trigger crop failures, damage to infrastructure and disrupt water supplies.
They blame the major industrialized nations for pumping large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning fossil fuels into the atmosphere and say those nations should help pay for the cost of adapting to weather extremes. They also want cash and easier access to clean energy technologies.
According to a draft:
-- The fund will start operating from 2013, although it remains an empty shell with no new funding commitments. Wealthier nations are being urged to pledge money, with the G20 expected to look at the issue during 2012. Nations have backed an intention to raise $100 billion in climate cash by 2020 and the fund is expected to manage part of this.
-- The fund would be run by a 24-member board, split evenly between developing and developed countries.
-- The World Bank would be the interim trustee subject to a review after 3 years and will be accountable to the board.
-- An independent secretariat will serve the board. A host country for the fund has to be chosen.
-- The fund will provide money and other assistance to help poorer nations shift toward low-emissions power generation and adapt to the impacts of climate change, with a focus on the urgent needs of nations highly vulnerable to climate change.
-- Private sector funds can also contribute toward programmers.
-- Poorer nations can access funds via multi-lateral lending agencies or specialist U.N. bodies or directly after an accreditation process. Countries can nominate domestic agencies to access funds but these need to be vetted.
-- Financing can be in the form of concessional lending, grants and other types as decided by the board.
MAIN STICKING POINTS
The United States, the world's second-biggest CO2 emitter, and Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, voiced objections during a final design planning meeting in October. That means delegates at the Durban meeting will try to reach a compromise.
The United States has said it wants greater emphasis on the role of the private sector. It also wants an explicit reference that contributions to the fund could also come from developing countries, although there is nothing to stop a developing country doing so under the current draft.
Washington also favors a model based on the multi-lateral banks playing a leading role with the World Bank as the trustee. It has also raised a question about the extent of the fund's independence.
Saudi Arabia has said it wants a clear reference to support for so-called response measures, which it says should include compensation for loss of oil revenues if the world steps up measures to reduce oil consumption.