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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Climate Conference Adopts Green Fund

Air Date: Week of
Jens Stoltenberg is Prime Minister of Norway. (Photo: Jennifer Stevens)

$100 billion to help poor countries adapt to a changing climate. That’s the decision at COP 16 – but vulnerable countries say they’ve yet to see pledges made after Copenhagen. Experts say the key to shaking loose the cash is setting a global price on carbon – but that seems unlikely in the short term given the US failure to pass climate legislation.


CURWOOD: Money, and lots of it. In fact, 100 billion dollars of it, every year come 2020. To help compensate for the lack of a binding agreement to cut emissions coming out of last year’s Copenhagen summit, the U.S. and other wealthy countries made that big pledge. It’s for developing countries to adapt to a changing climate and grow with less carbon. Jens Stoltenberg, prime minister of Norway, is the co-chair of a high level panel that was commissioned to prime negotiators in Cancun with practical ideas to meet those promises.

STOLTENBERG: It is challenging but feasible to mobilize the 100 billion we agreed on in Copenhagen.

Jens Stoltenberg is Prime Minister of Norway. (Photo: Jennifer Stevens)

CURWOOD: The advisory panel includes heads of state, and finance experts, bankers, international financier George Soros, and White House economic chief Lawrence Summers. The key to getting to 100 dollars billion a year, says Prime Minister Stoltenberg, is a price for carbon of no less than 20-25 dollars a ton. And the higher it is, the better the investment climate for developing countries.

STOLTENBERG: Especially the potential of auctioning emission allowances. We estimate that that can mobilize about 30 billion U.S. dollars annually, we look into potential of introducing carbon pricing for international aviation, international ships, that can provide about 10 billion U.S. dollars and we look into the potential of reallocating money going for subsidizing fossil fuels in the developed world—that can raise around 10 billion U.S. dollars.

Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador. (Photo: Jennifer Stevens)

CURWOOD: You enumerated 50 billion, but there's another 50 billion to go, where do you expect to get that?

STOLTENBERG: From other sources. The reason why I mentioned this 50 billion was just to illustrate how big the potential is connected to carbon pricing.

CURWOOD: Prime Minister Stoltenberg went on to mention traditional foreign aid and private financing, helped by the World Bank and its regional partners. U.S. Envoy Todd Stern came to Cancun to say the U.S. is keeping its Copenhagen promises, including pitching in to a fund of 30 billion dollars right away over three years, so-called fast track money.

The delegation from Ecuador wears traditional dress. (Photo: Jennifer Stevens)

STERN: We have secured approximately 1.7 billion dollars worth of climate assistance in our first year of fast start financing that will support adaptation activities for the most vulnerable countries around the world, combat deforestation in the world’s most biologically diverse tropical forests, and help put countries on a path toward low-carbon development. Again, this is just the first of three years and we will be looking to increase that amount in each of the next two years.

CURWOOD: But fast track has come under fire for simply shuffling foreign aid from one category to another, rather than providing new funds. Jairem Ramesh, environment minister for India spoke for many developing countries.

RAMESH: So far the fast start finance has not been fast, nor has it started, and there's hardly been any finance. In fiscal year 2010, the total commitment of the United States to fast start finance is 1.7 billion dollars, which does no justice to the world's preeminent economic power.

CURWOOD: The problem, said Bharrat Jagdeo, the president of Guyana, is that the U.S. has no mandatory cap on carbon itself, and without a cap there’s nothing to auction or tax. He asked Americans in Cancun to carry home a message.

Living on Earth’s Steve Curwood interviews the delegate from China. Eileen Bolinsky engineers. (Photo: Jennifer Stevens)

JAGDEO: I ask you this as a favor. I was a member of the AG, and the advisory group on financing, the high-level group that the secretary general put together that the prime minister of Norway chaired. Could you please give president Obama a copy of that executive summary?

The copy says we can raise 100 billion dollars by 2020 easily if we have the right price signal, which is the only sustainable form for keeping this initiative going; particularly now when most countries are now in a state where they're not going to provide money, and that is why we have this dubious form of accounting on the fast track financing-- double counting, counting aid money, loop holes all of this, and very glossy brochures about how fast track financing has been disbursed!

Steve & Bruce tracking scripts by flashlight. The UN meeting is so noising they have to go outside to record their stories. (Photo: Eileen Bolinsky)

CURWOOD: As some UN summit pundits like to say, climate protection in the developing world is spelled finance. But, loans and donations require good faith, and as UN climate negotiations drag toward the end of a second decade without worldwide limits on carbon emissions, it’s not only polar ice that’s disappearing, it’s also trust.

[MUSIC: New Cool Collective “Boca Arriba” from Out Of Office (Dox Records 2008).]

GELLERMAN: Just ahead, damming a river without water. Keep listening to Living on Earth!



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