Climate finance hits snag before key UN summit

The G20 talked big but delivered little on climate finance, campaigners said Sunday, as the clock ticks down to the UN's key Copenhagen summit in just one month's time.

Activists of the environmental group Greenpeace hang a banner reading "Climate Chaos, Who is to Blame?" from the Cristobal Colon statue in Barcelona.

One of the key talking points on Saturday for finance ministers meeting in the Scottish town of St Andrews had been working out how to deliver cash from rich to developing countries so they can tackle climate change.

The G20 agreed to work for an "ambitious outcome" at Copenhagen, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions. They also "recognised the need to increase significantly and urgently the scale and predictability of finance."

But there was no agreement on how cash should be delivered, although there would be "further work" on the issue, the final communique said.

Nor was there a clear figure for how much G20 countries would commit, although sources had played down hopes that this would be achieved before the meeting started.

With the Copenhagen talks starting on December 7, time is running out for a financial agreement to be in place by then.

"If there isn't an agreement on finance, if there isn't an agreement about contributions to make sure we can deal with this problem, then the Copenhagen agreement is going to be much, much more difficult," Alistair Darling, finance minister of hosts Britain, warned before the final session on Saturday.

Campaigners expressed disappointment at the meeting's outcome.

British charity Oxfam's senior policy adviser Max Lawson said: "The G20 has once again failed to live up to its rhetoric on climate change.

"As the clock ticks towards Copenhagen, the hundreds of millions of people around the world who are already suffering as a result of climate change cannot afford to wait any longer for a deal."

Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland, said the failure to reach agreement on funding was a "major disappointment."

"We wanted to see solid proposals on how the money would be raised, managed and distributed and an indication of how soon the countries most vulnerable to climate change will receive assistance," he added.

"The G20 has failed to deliver and the real work will now have to be done at Copenhagen."

Yvo de Boer, the UN's climate chief, said at the end of last month there were two "major opportunities" to make headway on finance before December.

One was the G20 finance ministers meeting in St Andrews the other was an EU summit earlier this month when leaders agreed that developing nations would need 100 billion euros (150 billion dollars) a year annually by 2020, but failed to agree how much individual countries would give.

So has all hope for a finance deal ahead of Copenhagen disappeared?

Darling on Saturday proposed that Britain, which is G20 president until the end of the year, could convene "a small group of countries which have particular problems."

"I am confident we can make progress at Copenhagen," he added.

There are also other chances for the international community to get together.

These include the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, bilaterals between the United States on one side and China, India and Japan on the other, and meetings between the European Union (EU) and China and India.

There will also be a restricted ministerial-level meeting among key countries in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations and talks among major economies that together account for 80 percent of the world's carbon output.

In Copenhagen itself, leaders could be there to give a final push in the closing days or hours -- Brown has said he will be there and Brazilian President Inacio Lula da Silva has urged others to attend.

Source: AFP

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