DURBAN, South Africa -- Little progress is being made at the annual United Nations climate change negotiations being held here this year through Dec. 9. The slightly positive development, so far, is a broad agreement on the setting up of a Green Climate Fund to the tune of $100 billion a year starting from 2020 to help developing countries combat climate change.
A set of rules, drafted by a committee of 40 experts, to operationalize the Fund has been presented to the negotiators of 194 countries. Money for the fund will be provided by developed countries as well as private sector sources. Several developing countries, including India, are concerned that the Fund should not be run by an institution that is not accountable to the Conference of Parties (COP) -- all the countries attending the talks.
One fear is that money could be allocated by a financial institution that will protect the interest of the developed world and the private sector. The Indian delegation here told SmartPlanet that the entity in-charge of the Fund should be required to operate under COP rules. Before signing off on the design of the Fund, India also wants developed countries to discuss a timeline for ponying up the money.
Indian activists, along with other NGOs in Durban, are protesting against the fund being administered by the World Bank. “Down with COP 17…Down with Corporations…Down with the World Bank,” they shouted in a green lawn called Speakers Corner, just outside the conference hall. “The land, air, water from where I come from is getting polluted and who is responsible,” asked Dayamani Barla, from the Indian state of Jharkhand. “Big industrialists and corporations who are backed by the World Bank.”
Ilana Solomon, from Action Aid USA, pointed that the World Bank did not control the Fund but was presently only an interim trustee. “The role of the World Bank in climate finance and in administering climate funds has been quite contentious because of its history in investing in dirty fossil fuel projects and a poor history of implementing environmental safeguards and involving communities in its decisions around funding,” she said.
The Indian delegation here did not specifically object to the World Bank but suggested opening bids for any financial institution that has credibility with the people and respect for environment. Other countries to register similar reservations include Colombo, Venezuela, Nicaragua -- representing the ALBA nations as well Saudi Arabia.
The United States, which blocked consensus on the draft report of the Green Fund in October, wants the private finance aspects to be more clearly defined as well for the rules of the Fund to be more flexible and not rooted in the COP.
Solomon noted that the U.S. also interprets part of draft text as preventing developing countries to contribute to the fund. “I would just note the irony there that they are concerned about developing countries contributing to the fund at a time where developed countries have lacked so much ambition and progress in that part of the finance puzzle,” she said.
The Indian negotiators here expressed optimism that since there is broad agreement on the Green Climate Fund; the procedural issues could also be worked out in the next 10 days. Till then, however, people are nervous that if the Fund’s design begins to unravel, it will mean starting from scratch and also delay developed countries in coming up with the money. “We cannot allow this debate to go on and suck the energy out of what we need which is money to fill the fund,” said Kelly Dent from OXFAM. “We need to see the fund up and running.”
Photo: Betwa Sharma