A website launched on Friday will help track whether rich countries are keeping a pledge to come up with $30-billion in climate aid for the poor, seen by the United Nations (UN) as a “golden key” to progress in talks on global warming.
The UN-backed site (www.faststartfinance.org) so far lists cash promises by six European donors including Germany and Britain and 27 recipients from Bangladesh to the Marshall Islands. Many of the developing nations have blank entries on the amount of aid received.
Rich countries promised at a UN climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009 to provide poor nations with “new and additional” climate funds “approaching $30-billion” for 2010 to 2012. Until now, there has been no official site to track compliance.
Countries fill in their own entries on the website, without checks.
“I strongly called on other countries to join,” Dutch Environment Minister Tineke Huizingasaid of the Dutch-led initiative during a meeting of 46 nations in Geneva reviewing financing for the fight against climate change.
The United Nations praised the site as a step to build trust between rich and poor before an annual meeting of the world’s environment ministers in Cancun, Mexico, from November 29 to December 10.
“I have always called this short-term financing the golden key to Cancun,” Christiana Figueres, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, told a news conference with Huizinga.
Developing nations say the promised new cash is a test of how far rich nations, which have spewed out most greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution, are willing to lead in combating global warming at a time of austerity cuts.
The US and Japan, the top two industrialised emitters of greenhouse gases, have not listed their aid contributions on the site yet.
The $30-billion is meant as a “fast start” to help the poor curb use of fossil fuels, shift to renewable energies such as wind, hydro and solar power, and adapt to floods, heat waves, droughts, mudslides or rising ocean levels.
“It is particulary urgent and important to have clarity about the source, the allocation and the disbursement of the short-term funds,” Figueres said.
Rich nations in Copenhagen also promised to increase aid to $100-billion a year from 2020. The two-day Geneva talks, ending on Friday, are looking at possible sources such as carbon taxes, levies on air tickets or on bunker fuels.
A Reuters tally of pledges for 2010 to 2012, from official data, show that pledges so far total $29,8-billion, close to the $30-billion pledge.
But it is unclear how much meets the demand for it to be “new and additional” as promised in Copenhagen.
“The website will not answer that particular question. It will show what countries see as their contribution to fast-track money,” Huizinga said.
In the Reuters tally, half of the total pledged so far – $15 billion – is from Japan, but much of this comes from a previously planned initiative running from 2008 to 2012.