Rich nations fudging their pledges: BASIC

With the so-called “fast start finance” for climate change completely missing over a year after it was promised at Copenhagen, major emerging economies have accused rich countries of trying to pass off existing funding to the wrong recipients as part of their pledges. Environment Ministers of the BASIC bloc — Brazil, South Africa, India and China — who held discussions here over the weekend, warned that this flow of money was the key to the future of climate change negotiations.

At the U.N. climate change summit at Copenhagen in December 2009, rich nations pledged to give $30 billion in “fast start finance” between 2010 and 2012 to help the poorest countries and those most affected by climate change. It was supposed to have been new and additional money meant specifically for small island states, African nations and the least developed countries.

However, more than 14 months after the promises were made they are yet to be kept. “I would be surprised if the total disbursement so far goes beyond two digits,” said Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, in a scathing indictment of developed countries.

Instead, he says, rich nations are attempting to sneak in their existing aid to large developing economies as part of the “fast start finance” package. “The U.S. has listed an amount of $26 million to India as part of their fast start finance pledges,” said Mr. Ramesh. He added that according to Brazilian Minister Izabella Teixeira, the European Union has listed aid to Brazil as part of the same. This failure to deliver on fast start finance was “the single biggest disappointment after the grand bargain at Copenhagen,” he added.

“Without the flow of fast track finance, there will be problems that we don't want to face in Durban,” warned Bomo Edith Edna Molewa, Environment Minister of South Africa, which will host the next U.N. summit in December 2011.

In their joint statement, BASIC Ministers made it clear that there was no point in beginning discussions on a Green Climate Fund until a sizable amount of money starts flowing under the fast start scheme.

The other critical issue on the road to Durban is the future of the Kyoto Protocol and its second commitment period. While all BASIC Ministers agreed that this would be at the centre of their negotiating agenda, the nuances of their statements here on Sunday could indicate some differing views on what exactly that future looks like.

While Chinese representative Xie Zhenhua emphasised the “common but differentiated responsibilities” — which means that only rich nations have legally binding emission reduction targets — the South African Minister did not mention the Kyoto Protocol at all.

“New strategy needed”

The Brazilian Minister, on the other hand, said a “new political strategy” was needed to ensure that the second commitment period was agreed upon, before the first expired next year. She said BASIC had come up with a proposed framework for the second commitment period, and emphasised “commitments from everybody” and the need to avoid “voluntary statements” alone. “The second Kyoto commitment period must reflect what science is telling us... Everybody needs to work together,” she said.