COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Billionaire financier George Soros outlined a way to unlock $100 billion to help slow global warming on Thursday as talks on a new U.N. climate deal slowed over tough demands by the Pacific island state of Tuvalu.
“I’ve found a way for someone else to pay ... to mobilize reserves that are lying idle,” Soros told Reuters on the sidelines of the December 7-18 conference that will end with a summit of 110 world leaders meant to agree a new climate pact.
Hungarian-born Soros said green loans to poor nations backed by International Monetary Fund gold reserves could total $100 billion.
“This $100-billion fund I think could just turn this conference from failure to success,” he said, admitting there were several legal and practical hurdles to unlocking the cash.
Poor nations want rich countries to spend 1 percent or more of their national wealth on emissions cuts in the developing world, or at least $300 billion annually, and about double the highest estimates by industrialized countries.
The European Commission cautioned against easy sounding solutions. “Money must come from somewhere, not just from a printing machine,” Artur Runge-Metzger, head of the Commission delegation, said when asked about Soros’ proposal.
Part of the U.N. talks were suspended for a second day after Tuvalu, which fears being washed off the map by rising seas, insisted the conference must consider its proposal for a legally binding treaty for deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
Tuvalu’s stance exposed rifts between developing nations, many of which would be required to do far more under its proposal to curb greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels. Nations including India and China spoke out against Tuvalu’s plan.
Most other nations reckon Copenhagen can only agree a political text to help slow desertification, floods, heatwaves and wildfires, with legal texts to be worked out next year.
A Chinese official said Beijing backed Tuvalu’s goals of tough action, but: “In our specific understanding of how to achieve such change, we might have some differences.”
Many aid experts and environmentalists applauded Tuvalu.
“A fine sounding political declaration from Copenhagen without a legally binding outcome is like a shark without teeth,” said Barry Coates, a spokesman for Oxfam.
Tuvalu is “afraid that their very clear treaty proposal will drop off the table while something more ambitious, more substantial, is not yet in sight,” said Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat.
Its proposal for a new protocol would create a new category of “particularly vulnerable countries,” such as small island states, that could get more cash and it would make “the survival of all nations” a paramount objective.
Small island states feel left out at the talks -- a 5-meter (15ft) globe hanging in the Copenhagen conference center omits many small island states such as the Cook Islands or the Maldives.
“We’re not even on the map,” said Dessima Williams of Grenada, head of the Alliance of Small Island States.
Rich-poor disputes over cash to fund the fight against climate change are one of the main points blocking a new U.N. deal, along with problems in agreeing how to share out the burden of cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
Williams said more than 100 nations in Copenhagen, including Tuvalu, back a goal of limiting temperature rises to less than 1.5 Celsius over pre-industrial times, far tougher than a 2C goal embraced by major emitters.
De Boer said: “I think that is going to be very difficult given where emissions are at the moment. To get down to a maximum 1.5 temperature increase ... it’s quite a heavy lift.”
And some private sector participants said the talks have paid almost no attention to a raft of private sector initiatives meant to mobilize trillions of dollars of pension and sovereign wealth funds and scale up existing carbon markets.
“It seems this process is sometimes very disconnected from the way technology is deployed and business transacted,” the President of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Lisa Jacobson, told Reuters on the fringe of the Copenhagen talks.
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