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Friday, October 8, 2010

Financing for climate – the key issue in Tianjin

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“You cannot simply fill a new bottle with old wine,” said Su Wei, Director of the Climate Change Department of China’s National Development and Reform Commission(NDRC) and the country’s Chief Climate Negotiator, - reports The Hindu in its October 7, 2010 issue. The occasion quoted here was the last round of negotiations before the year end Cancun Conference during which the financial assistance from the developed countries for projects to combat climate change in the developing world emerged as a key issue at the climate meet in Tianjin.

Mr. Su Wei’s remark came in the light of the fact that the West have not been stepping up commitments with promises and have been falling short of expectations. It has been a common feeling among developing nations that developed countries have been repackaging earlier development aid as climate related funding. The paper reports that officials from China and India were especially worried  at attempts by negotiators from west in general and the United States in particular to divide developing countries on the issue of finance –as large developing nations and small developing nations or less developed nations. It is reported that the developed countries reiterated calls this week for large developing nations to commit to financing projects I less developed countries.

Let us recall that developed countries had pledged to commit $30 billion to “fast start” projects in the next three years at the Copenhagen Summit in December 2009. Mr. Su reportedly said on October 6 that the money had to be “new and additional”, and not redirected from earlier commitments such as Overseas Development Assistance Programme. The National News Paper writes further- While Chinese officials this week played down expectations of a binding deal being reached at Cancun, they have identified climate finance as a priority for the year-end talks. “There is a lot of expectation of some agreement on climate finance being reached in Cancun,” Yang Ailun, Greenpeace China's head of climate and energy, told The Hindu. “The Chinese delegation has even defined the success of the Cancun conference in terms of climate finance.”

Differences, however, remain on how projects funded by financial aid would be measured, reported and verified (MRV) by developed countries.

Proposals from the U.S., according to sources, had called for strict measures in terms of data transparency as a condition for receiving assistance. Mr. Su said China had no objection to MRV for internationally-financed projects, as long as it “respected developing countries' sovereignty” and was “non-confrontational”. But what would fall within those terms remained unclear.

Green groups have criticised moves to link data transparency to climate finance. “It is a tactic to put pressure on countries like China and India, by saying that if you want to get financial aid from us, there needs to be a particular level of data transparency,” said Ms. Yang. “This tactic should be condemned, as developed countries, first and foremost, have a responsibility to commit aid. Linking this to another issue is irresponsible.”

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