* Draft design submitted for approval at Durban talks
* When approved, paves way for set-up in 2012, launch in 2013 (Adds Mexico, South Africa, negotiator comments)
By Nina Chestney and Agnieszka Flak
LONDON/JOHANNESBURG, Oct 21 (Reuters) - A U.N. committee has completed the draft design of a fund to help developing countries tackle climate change, paving the way for its launch in 2013, the U.N.’s climate chief said on Friday.
Last year, countries agreed to create the ‘Green Climate Fund’ to channel up to $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries fight climate change.
An international committee in charge of designing the fund met this week in South Africa, but some organisations accused the United States and Saudi Arabia of hampering the process.
Negotiators from around the world will consider whether to approve the design at next month’s U.N. climate summit in Durban, at which hopes have faded for sealing a new globally binding climate pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol from 2013.
“The Committee ended its work by submitting for consideration and approval in Durban both a draft instrument for the Green Climate Fund and recommendations on transitional arrangements to get it launched quickly,” Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
“The submissions (...) include a strong signal to engage the private sector and a solid basis to develop country-driven operations through direct access to funds.”
“Once approved in Durban, they would allow the fund to grow quite quickly, especially as the financial environment improves, and the way would be open for a fairly rapid set-up of the fund in 2012 and full initial operations in 2013,” she added.
The UK-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) said on Thursday that the United States and Saudi Arabia had withdrawn their support for the overall design of the fund due to concerns about some wording of the text.
Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, Mexico’s special climate envoy, however, told Reuters on the sidelines of a pre-COP 17 ministerial briefing in Stellenbosch outside Cape Town that while there were some concerns about the document from the two countries, he did not see any obstacles to its implementation.
“What is important is that we agreed to forward that document to the COP for action,” he said.
“We still need to do a lot of work in identifying the sources (of funding) and combination of public and private sources ... this will take us some time next year.”
Host South Africa stressed that the issue of financing has been overshadowed by the global economic crisis.
“I have no doubt that the G20 finance ministers do not need much persuasion; the problems stem from the short-term financial crisis. The green climate fund will have to grow to receive anything close to the $100 billion annually,” said Dumisa Jele, chief of staff at the presidency.
At a U.N. meeting in Panama last month, more than 100 of the world’s poorest nations accused the United States of blocking talks on how to scale up climate finance.
Some of the poorest nations in Africa and Asia, which are particularly vulnerable to climate change, have been urging more direct access to the fund and want to ensure green finance is in place before committing to a binding climate pact.
They argue that national climate change trust funds in developing nations should be able to access the Green Climate Fund directly, rather than going through a third party such as the World Bank, which entails long delays and excessive paperwork.
“Direct access means that you don’t have to go through implementing agencies. Many developing countries already have the capability of developing and implementing their own projects, to address their needs directly,” Bernarditas Muller, the chief negotiator for the G77 group of developing nations and China, told a briefing in Johannesburg.
“Most important of all, it will allow equal access for developing countries. We need predictable financing to be able to do long-term adaptation and mitigation planning.” (Additional reporting by Wendell Roelf in Cape Town, editing by Jane Baird)