During these processes, finance negotiators have become better and better at avoiding any controversial discussion of pathways, sources or scaling up. This week’s sessions were a perfect example of how to fill 6 hours of workshop time with nice presentations and polite discussions worthy of the finest side event. And not once going within a 10-meter radius of a controversial issue.
This could be a sign that finance negotiators here have acknowledged they have little to contribute at the UNFCCC to real financing decisions, and such weighty issues are better entirely up to Ministers. One could then hope that they are busy working in their capitals to convince their Ministers and Treasurers to prepare ambitious finance offers that will be revealed closer to the end in Paris.
This would be great, but there has been little indication of a renewed developed country commitment to climate finance so far — noting, of course, the recent statements by Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande calling for additional public finance to meet the $100 billion goal, with Merkel signalling a doubling of Germany’s public climate finance.
Meanwhile back at the UNFCCC, it is not clear anyone is keeping an eye on the finance ball – even from developing countries. Sure there are lots of text options in the Geneva draft for the Paris agreement, spanning a wide range of positions. But if recent developments are any indication, most of these could melt away before Paris, leaving little but vague statements about the importance of finance to meeting climate goals.
If developing countries don’t make finance a real priority, beyond draft text and stock phrases in declarations, it won’t be only developed countries who are to blame for inadequate financing.
Perhaps these workshops will help to ground future negotiations in real needs and realities on the ground, and realistic expectations of the role of private and public finance. Creative solutions exist that can move beyond traditional polarised chicken and egg debates.
Discussions of finance have long been plagued by an aura of unreality, with proposals that private finance will solve all our problems on the one hand, or that Annex 2 countries will pony up several percent of their GDP on the other, with too little attention from either side on what it will actually take in practical terms to create low or zero carbon economies worldwide and build resilience.
If the absence of meaningful progress at these workshops says that finance negotiators have lowered their expectations because the challenge is ‘just too difficult’, it doesn’t bode well for Paris or the planet.