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US wants developing nations to also share finance costs

Developing world says offer breaching UN framework a delay tactic

Climate Change Talks

Nitin Sethi  |  New Delhi 

An artwork entitled 'One Heart One Tree' by artist Naziha Mestaoui is displayed on the Eiffel tower ahead of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, in Paris

A proposal by the US and its allies asking developing countries to equally contribute towards global climate finance has irked developing countries at the Paris meet.

The Umbrella group (the US and its allies), going against the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, has asked developing countries to contribute on conditions on a par with those of developed countries. The radical departure from agreed UN principles by the rich countries has dimmed hopes of a compromise.

Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, only developed countries have legal commitments to provide funds to poor countries to help them reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. The provision was based on the fact that the accumulated greenhouse gas emissions of the developed world have caused the problem and they should pay for others to not go down the same path but adapt.

In 2009, the developed countries committed to give $100 billion annually by 2020. But they have fallen far short of that mark and have shown reluctance to commit to a road map that would build trust they would keep the pledge.

A developing country negotiator participating in closed-door talks on finance in Paris said, “US and its allies are proposing that ‘parties in a position to do so, including developed country parties, should mobilise and provide support to developing countries that may need it’. This is just preposterous. So, after two decades of not delivering on their financial commitments, today we are told there is a chance the developed world may not be in a position to provide funds and developing countries should contribute.”

This was being done to stall the talks in the first week so that the Umbrella group can say this needed political resolution and then push the ministers from the developing world to agree to their ideas in the second week, said the negotiator. “They know if they put such proposals that completely militate against the convention, we will bracket the text (signifying that some countries don’t agree to the proposal) and the climate finance text in the Paris agreement will only balloon and become irreconcilable,” he added.

The proposal on the third day was worse than what the Umbrella group, which also has Australia, Japan and Canada, had said on the second day of the talks, on December 1. Then the group had demanded, “As part of a shared mobilisation effort parties should … enhance the scale and effectiveness of climate finance.”

In 2011, all countries had decided that the Paris pact would be agreed upon under the UN Convention, implying all its provisions and principles would be applicable to the new agreement. This included the principle of differentiation between obligations of developed and developing countries. But the US and other developed countries have for a while said developing countries in a position to contribute or willing to do so should also put in money. That dilution of the firewall of differentiation was already deeply contested by the G77+China group of developing countries in the first draft of the Paris agreement.

“This is the stage to find a compromise. But the US wants to instead introduce more regressive proposals, knowing that these would not fly and would lead to a logjam,” said another negotiator from a developing country. “First they ask us to contribute to climate funds. Now they say we would have to assess whether the rich countries have the resources or not to pay poor countries. They want themselves to be put on a par with poor countries in Africa and Asia. They act as if they have forgotten the principle of common but differentiation responsibilities completely.”

The first negotiator said: “Yesterday, their proposal was not agreeable to us we and we got it bracketed. But today their more regressive proposal has proven that they are negotiating in bad faith. Is this how you seek a compromise at this stage with just one day of negotiations before us on this?”

An African negotiator speaking on condition of anonymity said, “They are up to the same tricks at the closed-door discussions on building capacity building of poor countries. In fact, there an African country openly said it would have to talk to the head of the US delegation to find out what is their real intent and if they really want to find solutions or just logjam the negotiations.”

The head of the G77+china developing countries group Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko from South Africa tweeted, “Deeply concerned with the attempts to introduce economic conditions in the #finance section currently under negotiation. Differentiation is not just a finance issue, but about the overall COP21 outcome.” COP21 refers to the summit in Paris.

At the time of writing this report on December 2, two parallel closed-door meetings, off-limits to observers, were slated to restart simultaneously at the Paris meet, leaving the few developing country negotiators specialising on climate finance harried in trying to maintain a presence in both.

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First Published: Thu, December 03 2015. 00:26 IST