US Revives Copenhagen Talks With $100 Billion Pledge to Developing Nations

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Delegates, NGOs Respond
Just as climate talks hit their lowest point, Hillary Clinton descended on Copenhagen like a deus ex machina, putting on the table a $100 billion-per year package of worldwide climate aid starting in 2020, provided that a deal can be reached with China over http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/11/china-mrv.php. (Video here.) "I understand the talks have been difficult," said Clinton, who was heading into talks with the Chinese prime minister. "There is a way forward."

For now, the announcement has restarted talks that this morning seemed on the brink of going up in smoke, and put new pressure on China and developing nations to capitulate to a deal, however weak it may be. Though talks are sputtering along, China sounded hopeful for a deal, contrary to an earlier report, and talks remain open on two tracks. "Hold tight and mind the doors," said UN climate chief Yvo de Boer. "The cable car is moving again." Can Obama and others bring the political will to steer it forward?Even with the new financing offer, few believe Obama will be able to make a fair and binding deal happen. Ultimately, whether a good foundation will be on the table by the time he arrives now largely depends on whether China agrees to a compromise on transparency.

The Secretary of State said the money -- intended for forestry and adaptation projects in the least developed countries (not China) -- would be a mix of public and private funds, including "alternative sources of finance." She didn't say what the American share of the fund would be, but typically in such multilateral financial efforts the United States contributes about 20 percent.

Sleep-deprived negotiators are scrambling now. Still, not everyone is happy with the US's finance pledge. The figure is significant, but developing nations have been asking for a commitment of long term financing of $200 billion.

Some comments from civil society and other observers:

World Wildlife Fund President and CEO Carter Roberts:

"Secretary Clinton's 100 billion dollar surprise breathes new life into the sputtering negotiations. It bridges the needs of the developed and developing worlds and changes the game in these global talks. All that remains is an agreement between the US and China about how they will define transparency, and a commitment by President Obama to make climate legislation his top priority for the new year."

Oxfam spokesperson David Waskow:

"We are heartened by Secretary Clinton's commitment to significant financial resources of $100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to help developing countries weather the negative impacts of climate change.

"It is absolutely crucial that this funding come from public sources in developed countries and be additional to current development assistance commitments. Private financing is no substitute for public investment in the resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable communities."

"If such public financing is put on the table, it could truly move us closer to a global deal on climate change."

Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke:

"The Secretary has proposed real money to help some of the world's most vulnerable people and protect forests. It has reenergized the talks here. What's needed now is a meaningful agreement that delivers effective action on climate change. That means commitments to cut carbon emissions in a clear and transparent way."

Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance's Mithika Mwenda:

"Climate change is already killing people in Africa and this commitment is simply insufficient to tackle the climate crisis. These are not commitments that will break the deadlocked negotiations, just more of the same from an administration that clearly does not understand the scale of the problem."

Friends of the Earth US President Erich Pica, President of U.S.:

"It's good to see the United States finally talking about putting longer term funding on the table to solve the climate crisis, but the proposal announced today looks like a shell game. The amount falls far short of what the United Nations says is needed. Inadequate funding will condemn the poorest to languish in poverty while the world suffers from climate chaos. In addition, loans and private investments must not substitute for public money, and it is unclear how much of this package is public."

"Climate change is already killing people in Africa and this commitment is simply insufficient to tackle the climate crisis. These are not commitments that will break the deadlocked negotiations, just more of the same from an administration that clearly does not understand the scale of the problem."

Apisai Ielemia, Prime Minister, Tuvalu -- one of a few island nations facing extinction unless a global temperature rise is restricted to 1.5 degrees Celsius:

"I do not want money to trade our existence."

Going Forward
China could likely agree to a compromise on the transparency issue. But De Boer said that the conferences two working groups now only have a "matter of hours" to report back to the plenary session of the conference.

"This is very encouraging--we now have clarity on the process, we have clarity on the documents that will be the basis for work, we have clarity the process will be transparent," he said.

Could talks extend past the weekend, if the will existed? "I hope not," said De Boer, "because I only have a hotel room booked until Sunday morning."

Tags: Copenhagen

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