Major economies focus on finance at climate meeting

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Representatives from the world’s biggest polluters sought to make progress on short-term financing to help developing countries adapt to global warming at a meeting hosted by the United States, U.S. President Barack Obama’s top climate negotiator said.

The Washington Monument is framed by cherry trees in bloom in Washington in April 2, 2010. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate included presentations by the United States and other developed countries on what they would do to make good on financing outlined in the Copenhagen Accord resulting from last year’s U.N. climate meeting in Denmark.

“There is an appreciation by everybody in the room it is important to make good on that commitment,” U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern said of the two-day meeting that ended Monday.

The Copenhagen Accord outlined funds approaching $30 billion for 2010 to 2012 to help developing countries adapt to global warming and mitigate its potential effects, like floods, droughts and stronger storms.

It also outlined longer-term financing by developed countries of $100 billion a year by 2020. Talks on that are being held by a separate U.N. panel headed by Britain and Ethiopia.


After Monday’s meeting, Stern told reporters that participants from the forum’s 17 economies -- including China and India, European Union countries and Russia -- had a broad-ranging talk on what can be done at the annual U.N. climate meeting to be held in Cancun, Mexico, late this year.

Stern said a binding agreement to cut emissions may not be possible in Mexico, but that progress can still be made on many issues. “There’s still considerable support for the notion of a legal agreement ... but I think that people are also quite cognizant of the notion that it might or might not happen.”

He cautioned that hopes for progress can at times be too high, saying there was “a good appreciation and a sound appreciation that we don’t want to let expectations far outstrip what can be done,” in Cancun.

The United States is the only industrialized nation outside the existing Kyoto Protocol, the U.N. plan obliging them to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of at least 5 percent below 1990 levels during the period 2008-12.

A compromise U.S. climate bill led by Senators John Kerry, a Democrat, Lindsey Graham, a Republican, and Joe Lieberman, an independent, is set to be unveiled on April 26. It faces an uncertain future amid opposition from lawmakers from states with economies heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

At Monday’s meeting, the United States issued a document to participants that said its climate-related appropriations for 2010 total $1.3 billion and that the Obama administration has requested $1.9 billion for fiscal year 2011.

The funds include support for the U.S. administration’s pledge to provide $1 billion for the U.N. program Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation.

Stern said there was progress on six issues at the meeting including mitigation, transparency, financing, technology, forests and adaptation.

It was the sixth meeting of the group since Obama launched the talks last year, and Michael Froman, deputy White House national security adviser, said the participants considered holding another meeting later this summer.

Representatives from some countries had to attend the conference via video conferencing because of canceled flights resulting from the volcanic eruption in Iceland. Participants from Colombia, Denmark and Yemen attended the meeting.

Editing by Chris Wilson