Rich countries could set off a chain reaction that leads to success in Copenhagen if they put forward at least $200bn per year in new public funds to help poor countries reduce their emissions and adapt to a changing climate. Big developing countries such as China have signalled that they are willing to increase – and formalize – already significant pledges to reduce emissions if rich countries provide the necessary support. This, in turn, could help rich country leaders overcome domestic barriers to more ambitious targets. And it could secure the support of the world’s poorest countries that need help to adapt to a rapidly changing climate.
President Obama has already set the wheels in motion by agreeing to join other world leaders on 18 December and by announcing that the US is ready to pay its fair share towards the ‘fast start’ fund. Rich countries have said they are willing to put forward $10bn a year between 2010 and 2013 to help vulnerable countries tackle climate change. The European Union must now build on the US move by putting forward its share of the $200bn a year needed in the long term – and pushing for the US to do the same. In October the EU said that a global fund worth up to €50bn ($74bn) per year is needed to help poor countries tackle climate change but stopped short of saying how much it will contribute.
But Oxfam warned that climate finance must be new. Many rich countries still plan to use money from existing aid commitments to meet their climate obligations. Antonio Hill, Senior climate change advisor for Oxfam International said: “The price of success in Copenhagen is $200bn. $200bn could trigger off a chain reaction that delivers more ambitious emissions reductions and helps the world’s poorest people adapt to a changing climate. We need to see this figure sparkling overhead in Christmas lights by the end of the Summit. Its peanuts compared to the $8.4 trillion we found to save drowning banks.”
Rich countries are indeed mistaken if they think that less than a half of the emissions cuts demanded by the science and $10bn in re-packaged aid promises can be spun as a success in two weeks time. It underestimates the real needs of billions of poor people and overestimates the patience of poor countries who have clearly signalled their preference for no deal over green wash.