EU Finance Ministers fail to agree on putting any figure on the table at the Warsaw meet

Hopes of a commitment from the developed world to scale up finance for the short term at the Warsaw climate change conference have faded. The recently concluded meeting of EU Finance Ministers did not agree on putting any figure on the table at the Warsaw meet, slated to start on November 11.

The U.S. too, in its formal submission on October 7 to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on scaling up finance, has ignored the call for committing midterm figures at Warsaw. It instead focused on leveraging private investments and removing barriers in the developing world to such investments.

The developed world had committed to provide a ‘fast-start fund’ of $30 billion to poorer countries between 2010 and 2012 and then $100 billion annually starting 2020. Since last year, the developing world has almost unanimously demanded that these countries put forth a road map for scaling up finance between now and 2020. Various developing country groupings, including the BASIC, have asked these developed countries to make mid-term commitments as well as bring transparency to the figures they claim to have spent so far.

The EU Economic and Financial Affairs Ministers discussed the Warsaw climate change meeting agenda in Luxembourg on October 15 but failed to put an explicit financial commitment together for 2014-2020.

Private investments

In September, the EU submitted its position on scaling up finances to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, asking that the emerging economies too should contribute to the $100-billion fund. This has not been agreed to at the U.N. negotiations so far. In the submission, the EU also pushed the case for private investments though it also mentioned the ‘important role’ of public funds.

The EU submission also said, “The EU and its member-states exceeded their Fast-Start Finance commitment to provide EUR 7.2 billion. Furthermore, the EU and several member-states announced voluntary climate finance contributions adding up to EUR 5.5 billion in Doha.”

But, these figures have been taken with a pinch of salt by the developing countries as well as civil society, with reviews showing that existing overseas development assistant or ODA commitments have been recycled as climate ‘change finance.’

Oxfam, reviewing the fast-start funds from EU between 2010 and 2012, had stated, “Despite the promise that Fast-Start Finance was new money, ODA had been cut back for the second year in a row.” Stating that though the EU had done better than other countries, Oxfam said, “Only 27% of the EU’s fast-start finance had not been pledged, planned or otherwise in the pipeline already when the commitment was made in Copenhagen [in 2009]. Furthermore, only 17% of the fast-start finance was additional to existing overseas aid promises.”

The U.S.’s contribution to the fast-start funds have come under similar criticism from civil society as well as the developing world.

The issue of financial commitments for the short term was last raised by many developing countries, including India, at a meeting of about 40 countries organised by the host of this year’s climate talks, Poland. The meeting was organised in the run-up to the official November talks.

An Indian negotiator aware of the discussions at this meeting told The Hindu, “The developed countries had their ideas, and discussions focused on everything but public funding. But I think the message was sent to the Polish presidency quite clearly — without progress on the issue of finance and ‘loss and damage’ it would be difficult for the developing countries to advance on other agendas.”

‘Presidency’ refers to the country hosting the climate talks. The host is supposed to facilitate the talks and is always under pressure to provide some clear deliverables at such negotiations.

The Indian negotiator said, “The Polish presidency informed that it would bring both issues to the high-level segment in the second week of the talks, which is led by the respective Ministers.”