G20 finance ministers fail to reach green on climate financing



Posted on 07 November 2009  | 
Houses of shrimp fishermen near Mogla, Sundarbans National Park, Bangladesh. Poverty is rife in the Sundarbans. These shrimp fishermen's houses are threatened by rising water levels due to climate change and the frequent storms that batter this area
© © David Woodfall / WWF-UKEnlarge
St Andrews, Scotland – Finance ministers of the world’s dominant economies failed to reach agreement on the financing required for a global agreement to stave off catastrophic climate change, WWF said today as the G20 finance ministers meeting here broke up with no resolution to issues dividing developed and emerging economies.

The lack of progress made by the G20 in St. Andrews, follows another week of inconclusive negotiations in UN climate talks in Barcelona as the world heads towards the crucial UN climate conference in Copenhagen in a month’s time.

With the G20 now having considered the climate financing issue three times without reaching common ground, WWF remains sceptical about today's promise to make further progress before Copenhagen.

“The G20 Finance Ministers meeting turned out to be a mostly irrelevant sideshow on the way to the talks in Copenhagen in a months’ time," said Dr Richard Dixon, Director of WWF Scotland.

"Failure to come to agreement here is a major disappointment.

“This is a group that can throw money at collapsing banks but cannot find adequate figures for the far worse challenge to the global economy of a collapsing climate system."

In detail, the G20 ministers acknowledged the need to increase significantly and urgently the scale of funding but failed to make any reference to the sums required, estimated to be around $160bn a year of public financing.

They also failed to agree on new sources of funding for a climate deal, such as auctioning emissions credits and levies on aviation and shipping.

"Talk of a financial transaction tax which has the potential to raise hundreds of billions in new funding every year turned out to be a red herring without solid political support," Dr Dixon said.

The G20 agreed some principals on a mechanism to administer and distribute these funds but failed to turn these into concrete proposals and - despite last week's pledges from Europe - no new money was put on the table to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to a changing climate.

It is estimated the immediate need for the most vulnerable nations is around $10bn a year.

WWF endorsed the G20s continuing professed interest in winding back fossil fuel use subsidies, but said the group needed to focus its main attention on getting an effective global deal on climate.

“If we are to keep the planet below the danger threshold of a 2ºC temperature rise, the rich nations of the world are going to have to help developing countries follow a low-carbon development path and help them cope with the impacts of current and future climate change," Dr Dixon said.

"We wanted to see solid proposals on how the money would be raised, managed and distributed and an indication of how soon the countries most vulnerable to climate change will receive assistance. The G20 has failed to deliver and the real work will now have to be done at Copenhagen.”



Houses of shrimp fishermen near Mogla, Sundarbans National Park, Bangladesh. Poverty is rife in the Sundarbans. These shrimp fishermen's houses are threatened by rising water levels due to climate change and the frequent storms that batter this area
© © David Woodfall / WWF-UK Enlarge

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