OSLO/LONDON (Reuters) - Earthquake-hit Japan and many other rich nations are reaffirming pledges to give $30 billion from 2010-12 to help poor nations fight climate change despite budget cuts, a Reuters survey showed on Wednesday.
Climate aid has totaled $16.2 billion since January 2010, according to submissions to the United Nations by a May deadline. Poor nations have said much of the cash is from existing programs and is not new as promised.
Donors were led by Japan, the European Union and the United States. Spending includes projects such as an Australian plan to help the Solomon Islands slow coastal erosion and investments by Tokyo in Africa to promote solar energy.
“Aid is definitely coming through the pipeline,” said Liz Gallagher, an expert at the E3G environmental think-tank in London. But she said that many projects lacked ambition to help countries carry out a radical shift toward a greener economy.
At a U.N. summit in Copenhagen in 2009, President Barack Obama and other leaders promised “new and additional” climate aid approaching $30 billion from 2010-12, rising to $100 billion a year by 2020 to help the poor combat global warming.
Japan, by far the top donor under the “fast start” project with a promised $15 billion over three years to 2012, said that it would stay on track despite the cost of its own recovery from the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March.
“Faced with an unprecedented disaster, the Great East Japan Earthquake, Japan is determined to overcome the catastrophe and to continue to faithfully implement the commitment on the fast-start financing,” Japan’s report said.
“We are sure that we can accomplish our ($15 billion) pledge,” Akira Yamada, who will head Japan’s delegation at the next round of U.N. climate talks in Germany from June 6-17, told Reuters.
Tokyo said it had provided $6.3 billion in aid from public sources from 2010 to March 31, 2011 as part of the aid meant to help the poor cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to changes such as more heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels.
Developing nations say that much of the Japanese cash was committed as part of a previous “Cool Earth” partnership agreed long before Copenhagen.
Still, Gallagher at E3G said it was encouraging that donors were reaffirming their promises at a time of weak economic growth, despite big uncertainties about what they meant by new and additional funds.
The European Union said that it had provided 2.34 billion euros ($3.36 billion) in 2010, or 98 percent of a promised 2.40 billion, and was on track to slightly overshoot a total pledge of 7.2 billion euros by 2012.
“At least from the EU side that’s on track,” said Artur Runge-Metzger, the EU’s chief climate negotiator. He added that it was “good news” that Japan had reaffirmed its commitment.
The United States said it had provided $1.7 billion in 2010 and has promised an unspecified “fair share” over the three-year period. Budget cuts this year are likely to reduce U.S. aid.
Almost 200 nations agreed to provide details of their fast-start spending “by May 2011” as part of a package of measures agreed in Mexico last year and meant to step up the fight against global warming. Most took that to mean May 31.
U.N. negotiators will meet in Bonn, Germany, next week to discuss issues such as the fate of the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol for cutting emissions and plans for a new fund to help channel green aid to developing nations.
For Reuters latest environment blogs, click on: blogs.reuters.com/environment/
Editing by Tim Pearce