Reassessing priorities on long-term finance

3 October 2011

Back in Bonn, Eco complained that the finance negotiations seemed more concerned with designing finance institutions than deciding where the long-term finance to fund them should come from. The result could be a Green Climate Fund that is an empty shell, and a Standing Committee that is left to stand still.

Paying a quick visit to yesterday’s finance informal, Eco was pleased to see a number of parties stress the need to readdress this balance. When Durban draws to a close, the world’s citizens will find it extraordinary if the African COP does not deliver the resources that poor and vulnerable people in Africa and elsewhere need to adapt to climate change and shift to a low-carbon development path.

A meaningful decision on long-term finance in Durban should cover at least three elements. First, a roadmap is needed for scaling-up climate finance from 2013 to 2020 to at least meet the $100 billion per year commitment by 2020. This should include a commitment from developed countries that there will be no gap after the end of the Fast Start Finance period. The roadmap should recognise that $100 billion is needed from public finance – mobilised first and foremost through assessed budgetary contributions of developed countries, and through supplementary sources of public finance, such as carbon pricing of international transport or financial transaction taxes.

Finally the roadmap should include a detailed workplan to drive towards the further decisions needed at COP-18, including technical workshops and submissions from parties, experts and observers.

But negotiators should not be satisfied with agreeing a roadmap alone. They must also get the finance car on the road and start driving down it.

The second key area to address in Durban is the initial capitalisation of the Green Climate Fund. Eco wants to be clear that an initial capitalisation should not merely cover the running costs of the Secretariat and Board of the new fund over the next year, but must extend commitment to a substantial first tranche of funding to enable the disbursement of climate finance to developing countries from 2013.

Finally, there should be a decision in Durban to move ahead with the most promising supplementary sources of public finance. Eco notes that the International Maritime Organisation is ready to get to work on designing an instrument to apply a universal carbon price to international shipping, which would both control high and rising emissions from the sector, and raise substantial new revenues. But the IMO process is waiting for guidance from the UNFCCC COP on how to do so while respecting CBDR.

There is no reason to delay giving that guidance to ensure the IMO gets down to work from March next year. A Durban decision should establish the principle that CBDR can be addressed by directing revenues as compensation to developing countries and to the Green Climate Fund. Further work will still be needed on the details of implementation, but better to start those discussions next year than wait another 12 months.

With progress on these elements in Panama, Eco is confident that Durban can yet deliver an balanced outcome on finance which helps both to operationalize the new finance institutions needed, and to mobilize the long-term revenues. The people watching the African COP will expect nothing less.

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