Thursday, December 17, 2009

US to join climate fund for poor countries

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the media at a news conference during the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen on December 17, 2009. Photo/REUTERS

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the media at a news conference during the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen on December 17, 2009. Photo/REUTERS 

By DAVE OPIYO in Copenhagen, Denmark

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday announced the United States is willing to join other rich countries in raising US$100 billion in yearly climate financing for poor countries by 2020.

The announcement could give a boost to deadlocked climate talks which have faltered over disputes between rich and poor countries over emissions cuts and climate financing.

Mrs Clinton said that the financing is contingent on world leaders reaching a broader climate pact at the UN talks in Copenhagen.

She says the deal must include all major economies, meaningful actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions and a system to ensure all parties' actions are transparent.

"$100 billion is a lot…. It can have tangible effects. We think this money is appropriate and useful," she told at a news conference in Copenhagen.

She added: “We expect that the funding will come from a variety of sources. We are glad that the funding will give significant focus on forestry and adaptation issues.”

Praise

Her announcement immediately drew praise from environmental lobby groups with Mr Davis Waskow, the spokesperson for Oxfam International saying: “We are heartened by Secretary Clinton’s commitment to significant financial resources of $100 billion dollars a year by 2020 overall to help developing countries weather the negative impacts of climate change.

“Support for poor countries cannot be left to the whims of the markets. It is absolutely crucial that this money comes from public sources and is additional to current aid commitments.

“If new and guaranteed climate finance is put on the table, it will help move these fracturing talks closer to a global deal on climate change,” she said.

Developing countries have demanded between US$ 100 and 200 billion in annual funding to enable them adequately and effectively meet the challenges brought about by the negative effects of climate change.

On Wednesday, African negotiators backed proposals to establish a US$ 30 billion ‘start up fund’ to enable developing countries plan for ambitious programmes to tackle climate change over the next three years.

But the negotiators however suggested that 40 per cent of the funds be reserved for the continent, which has so far bore the greatest brunt of global warming despite its little contribution.

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