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Likely delay in UN Green Climate Fund

Night shot of the ICC
in Durban “’ venue for the
troubled UN climate change
Durban, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 02 December 2011 – The U.S., Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have raised concerns about the United Nations Green Climate Fund, delaying work on the mechanism aimed at delivering as much as US$100 billion a year in aid to developing nations.

The objections raise the risk that the measure won’t be finished in time for the conclusion of the UN climate change conference. It’s one of the key proposals envoys from more than 190 nations are working to include in a package fighting climate change.

The move is a setback for the chances of an agreement in Durban. It follows comments from China and Brazil indicating they are unlikely to sign up to a new deal unless industrial nations make new commitments on reducing fossil fuel emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, whose limits lapse at the end of 2012. The U.S., European Union, Japan, Russia, Canada and Australia are seeking a treaty that goes beyond Kyoto’s restrictions, capping output in China and India too.

“Reopening the text could jeopardise the fund because the text is the result of one year of negotiations,” said Stefan Krug, climate finance spokesman for Greenpeace International. “You’ll get a domino effect as everyone asks for changes.”

The Green Climate Fund’s delay opens a new set of issues that UN officials must clear up before ministers arrive for the conclusions of talks next week. They had hoped to win endorsement for the fund’s operational structure as early as today, leaving more controversial political issues, including the future of Kyoto, for the ministers.

Asked whether he could envision any agreement at the talks in Durban without industrial nations signing up to a new round of reductions under Kyoto, Brazil’s envoy said, “no.” China’s lead negotiator, Su Wei, said that failing to extend the agreement would place the international system of climate rules in “peril.”

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the South African minister overseeing the annual round of climate talks, said she would undertake “informal” consultations about how to overcome objections to technical details about how the fund will work. She stopped short of reopening the text for debate by delegates. Some delegations supported the measure as it stands.

The U.S., Saudi Arabia and Latin American nations in the Alba negotiating bloc say they can’t accept a draft plan for a green climate fund.

The draft raises “substantive concerns” and contains “errors and inconsistencies,” said Jonathan Pershing, a State Department envoy leading the U.S. delegation. He didn’t elaborate his concerns.

The Venezuelan envoy, speaking on behalf of Alba, said the plan would hurt the access of developing countries to resources. Oil-rich Saudi Arabia wants to be compensated for the costs of addressing climate change.