US to help mobilise $100 bln by 2020 for climate fight
U.S. tried to break a deadlock in UN climate talks with a pledge to help mobilise $100 billion a year by 2020 to assist poor nations.
The United States tried to break a deadlock in UN climate talks on Thursday with a pledge to help mobilise $100 billion a year by 2020 to assist poor nations, but pointedly warned China it must accept tough requirements.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the dramatic announcement with less than two days remaining for an international summit aimed at reducing global emissions of carbon dioxide pollution linked to climate change. Some world leaders were voicing fears the talks could end in failure.
"We have come to Copenhagen ready to take the steps necessary to achieve a comprehensive and an operational new agreement," Clinton said at a press conference.
China, which will be key to the success of the Copenhagen summit, responded favorably to Clinton's announcement.
"I think the financial issue is very important. Whatever initiative these countries will announce is a good step," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei told Reuters when asked about the announcement.
The long-term aid from rich countries has been a key demand of developing countries, especially the poorest ones who are most threatened by rising sea levels and have the fewest resources to battle weather-related problems.
The United States, EU, Japan and other developed countries also are expected to get behind "quick-start funds" to help poor countries between now and 2012. That money could total $10 billion or so a year.
The $100 billion a year long-term fund is far less than some African countries have demanded, but it appeared to be the most the Obama administration could garner political support for.
"In the context of a strong accord, in which all major economies stand behind meaningful mitigation actions and provide full transparency as to their implementation, the United States is prepared to work with other countries toward a goal of jointly mobilising $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the climate change needs of developing countries," Clinton said.
She added that the funding would come "from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance." But she did not provide further details.
U.S. House of Representatives member Edward Markey, a main author of a carbon pollution reduction bill that narrowly passed the House in June, told reporters his legislation would help facilitate much of the fund Clinton announced.
Noting it sets mechanisms for Washington to help on international deforestation and climate adaptation efforts. Markey said: "That legislation makes it possible for us to meet the committments."
Clinton's announcement won praise from U.S. environmentalists.
Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope called it a "bombshell" that was a "very important step toward resolving both the impasse on the finance issue, as well as concluding a final political agreement here in Copenhagen."
Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists said the promise of the $100 billion annual fund "could be a real game changer." But he predicted that developing countries will be eager to learn details of how much money will actually come from the rich-nation governments.
"The developing countries are looking for commitments from governments to provide public support" for activities such as reducing deforestation, developing clean energy technology and adapting to climate change. "This is a government-to-government negotiation," he added.
Clinton said the long-term fund was conditioned on a "strong accord" being agreed to in Copenhagen.
During difficult negotiations, some developing countries, such as China, have balked at the monitoring, reporting and verification requirements the United States and others insist upon in countries' carbon reduction steps.
In a pointed reference to China, Clinton said,
"It would be hard to imagine, speaking for the United States, that there could be the legal or financial commitment that I've just announced in the absence of transparency from the second biggest emitter, and now the I guess the first biggest," she said.
"If there is not even a commitment to pursue transparency that's kind of a dealbreaker for us," Clinton added.
U.S. officials have likened the U.S. demands for climate change accountability to verification requirements that have been the hallmark of past nuclear arms reduction treaties and trade deals.
Reuters Last Mod: 17 Aralık 2009, 19:45