The European Union and United States said on Wednesday they would not make concrete near-term funding pledges at UN climate talks to help developing countries cope with the fallout from global warming.
The EU said tight finances prevented it from taking on new commitments as a bloc, while Washington insisted that it was already “doing what we agreed to do and what we’ve committed to do.”
Their positions, reiterated at a news conference on the meeting’s sidelines, angered negotiators for the world’s least developed states and those most at risk from climate change, who insisted on pledges for funding from 2013.
“We want to see finance on the table as we leave here. It is part of a package that we are expecting in Doha before we are leaving here,” said Pa Ousman Jarju, a negotiator for Gambia, representing the Least Developed Countries group.
But European Union senior climate negotiator Pete Betts told the briefing that “these are tough financial times in Europe.”
As a bloc, “we, as other developed countries, are not going to be in a position at this meeting to agree any kind of target for 2015,” although individual members have said they would announce commitments in Doha.
Developed nations are being asked to show in the Qatari capital how they intend to keep a promise to raise funding for the developing world’s climate mitigation plans to $100 billion per year by 2020 — up from a total of $30 billion in 2010-2012.
Poor nations say a total of $60 billion is needed from now to 2015 to help them deal with worsening drought, flood, storms and rising seas.
Britain on Tuesday became the first country to pledge money, saying it would spend about 1.8 billion pounds (2.2 billion euros/$2.9 billion) over the next three years — though critics said most of this was not “new” money.
For the United States, negotiator Jonathan Pershing said on Wednesday: “The question of whether there is a new commitment that gets announced here is not the right question.
“The current discussions obligated us to look at a 2020 number. That’s what we agreed to do. They committed us as a downpayment in good faith to look at a $30-billion collective effort, and we have done more than that.
“In that sense I think we are doing what we agreed to do and what we’ve committed to do,” he said.
But Ousman said this was “a misinterpretation of things.”
“Our understanding is that it’s per year and that (the funding) should start now… and we want figures on the table.”
Pressed on whether the United States may still make a pledge before the talks end on Friday, Pershing said Washington was busy drawing up next year’s budget — a process he said was “fairly complicated.”
On behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, 43 countries most at risk from global warming-induced sea level rise, negotiator Ronny Jumeau thanked Britain for its pledge.
“We would like to… strongly encourage all the other countries involved in these negotiations to follow that example and put something on the table so at least we will be arguing about figures rather than arguing about nothing.”