Money and power

Tuesday, December 06, 2011 • Mattias Söderberg

Durban climate talks have gone up a gear. Today, ministerial delegates will take the place of the advisors, security at the conference venue has ramped up, and negotiations will go long into the night each day this week.

ACT’s head of delegation Mattias Söderberg blogs from the talks:

Last year at the COP16 in Cancun, politicians from the world over agreed to set up the so-called Green Climate Fund, a means of channeling climate finance to developing countries.

Since then, a working group has knuckled down to develop the framework for the fund. The idea was that the group should present the results in Durban and that it could then be put into operation and thus get money to the regions laid bare by climate change. A good plan.

But no, the meeting in Durban had just started when the first countries started to protest. The United States said in the opening press conference that they were not happy about the way the fund was developed. And soon countries from Latin America came out with criticism. The US wanted to change the governance. The Latin Americans were concerned about the role of the private sector in the fund. Before the conference, the fund was seen as one area of potential success at Durban. A week on, it lay unresolved.

The basic matter is about power. Who should control the money? If we follow the UN principles and the perspective that climate finance is a form of compensation developing countries have the right to receive, then developing countries should also have influence on how the money are governed, distributed and used.

But if the traditional donor-persepctive is used, donor countries should also have more to say. And that is the problem. When countries like the US want to see climate finance as charity and not compensation for the damage caused by years of emissions which are now hitting developing countries badly, they in fact hinder development.

The debate is still open. In the coming days we will hopefully get an agreement.

See ACT’s full position on financing the fund.

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This blog chronicles day-to-day happenings at the UNFCC in Doha, Qatar in 2012 and Durban, South Africa in 2011.

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