Hatoyama Initiative: Is That All There Is?

4 November 2009

Is this it? Hope not.

When Prime Minister Hatoyama of Japan announced his “Hatoyama  Initiative” for financing developing country actions in his speech at the UN Summit in September, ECO was enthused about several of the principles laid out in his speech: “substantial, new and additional public and private financing” . . . “innovative mechanisms to be implemented in a predictable manner” . . . “an international system should be established under the auspices of the UN climate change regime.”

Naturally, ECO was looking forward to hearing more about all this.  This Monday, there was an announcement from Japanese delegation about the Hatoyama Initiative as an input to the LCA finance informal group.

Frankly, this was a disappointment and it took a day or so to sink in.  First of all, the announcement lacked the drama ECO had anticipated, and the paper was not even distributed.  After finally acquiring and reading the text of the submission, things were even more puzzling.

Japan’s proposal suggests establishing three funds and a ‘dating agency.’  So far, so good.  But it does not address many of the crucial issues about financing, and it almost looks like they got hold of the US proposal and copied their homework from that.

For example, the proposal does not address the scale of the funds required, and so it falls short of the principle of “substantial, new and additional.” It has a mixture of voluntary pledges and a levy on an offsetting mechanism – but relying on pledges is against the spirit of Bali.  Finally, Climate Change Funds and Green Enabling Environment Funds seem to be managed by existing institutions like the World Bank and GEF with guidance of COP.  But is this what “under the auspices of the UN climate change regime” means?

The government of Japan is said to be developing the proposal further.  And so, ever helpful and practical, ECO has one suggestion: let’s come back to principles and rebuild this initiative from scratch. After all, Japan still has time to come up with a clearer, stronger proposal for Copenhagen.

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