Short-term climate funds on track, doubts over future

DURBAN Fri Dec 2, 2011 1:18am IST

A protester gestures in front of a banner outside the COP17 (Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Climate Change) venue in Durban November 28, 2011. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

A protester gestures in front of a banner outside the COP17 (Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Climate Change) venue in Durban November 28, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

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DURBAN (Reuters) - Rich nations are on track to deliver on their promise to supply $30 billion in short-term climate financing by the end of next year to help poor countries tackle global warming.

But doubts emerged at the climate talks in Durban this week over whether donors will be able to ramp-up support to $100 billion a year by 2020 as part of a long-term fund to assist developing nations in their fight against climate change.

"The U.S. is committed to meet our share of the total effort," Jonathan Pershing, the U.S. special climate envoy, told reporters on Thursday.

More than 190 countries at the climate talks are expected to sign off on the long-term Green Climate Fund, but worries persist as to where the money will come from given the debt crisis hitting major donors.

Japan, the largest donor so far, implemented $12.5 billion in 'fast-start' financing as of the end of last month, out of around $15 billion pledged in total.

Around $3.5 billion of its contribution so far has come from the private sector, while the overall total had flowed to nearly 600 projects in 95 different countries -- more than half of which are in Africa or less developed countries (LDCs).

The United States and the European Union said they have mobilised $5.1 billion and 4.7 billion euros, respectively, in the past two years.

MITIGATION MEASURES

Some $3.5 billion of the U.S. pledges have come through Congressional appropriations, with the remainder being pledged by development finance and export credit agencies.

Critics have voiced concerns over how much of that short-term money would go to mitigation measures -- investments made to cut on greenhouse gas emissions -- as opposed to adaptation, which seeks to reduce the vulnerability of those most affected by changing and extreme weather patterns.

Some other concerns related to whether the money pledged was new cash or old development funding given a new name.

"Short-term finance has had its challenges in terms of transparency and in terms of ensuring that the money was new, additional finance," said Seyni Nafo, spokesman for the Africa Group of countries.

A study by the African Climate Policy Centre shows less than $2 billion of the money pledged was new and additional money.

The report also said some 62 percent of the finance was allocated to mitigation projects, with 25 percent given to adaptation and 13 percent dedicated to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+).

Australia, which has so far allocated A$498 million of its total A$599 million target for fast-start funding, said its contribution was new and additional and was almost evenly split between adaptation and mitigation measures.

(Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz and Michael Szabo; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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