The climate deal: An extended Kyoto, but no clear path for climate aid

The 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change a day behind schedule. Photo by: Penny Wang / COP18

How developed countries will mobilize $100 billion a year in climate funding will remain a mystery for another year as parties that attended the climate change conference in Doha, Qatar, have decided to push the issue into next year’s conference.

The 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change ended Saturday, a day behind schedule. This could be due to some countries that Brazil Ambassador for the Environment André Corrêa do Lagos said didn’t “negotiate until the last minute.”

“They only start negotiating on the last night,” he told RTCC. “This is not possible, you have to negotiate during the process so that you have something stronger and better, and not negotiated without two nights without sleeping and trying to understand what you signed over the next three months.”

There were barely any climate aid pledges at this conference, despite the fact that fast-start finance is set to end this year. Only a select few, such as the United Kingdom, pledged to provide climate funding for the next two years.

The lack of a clear outline on how developed countries will provide its pledged climate funding is a source of frustration as well.

“It’s troubling that some [developed] countries, for example the U.S., are very skeptical toward doing anything beyond saying ‘we have made a promise of $100 billion by 2020,’” Norwegian Environment Minister Baard Solhjell said, The Associated Press reports.

“There is no new finance [for adapting to climate change and getting clean energy] — only promises that something might materialize in the future,” according to a representative of small island states, the BBC reports. “Those who are obstructive need to talk not about how their people will live, but whether our people will live.”

The United States not committing to any new climate aid, however, has been apparent since the start of the negotiations. “The question of whether there is a new commitment that gets announced here is not the right question,” U.S. negotiator Jonathan Pershing was quoted as saying.

Failure to tackle financing issues led many to call the conference deal “weak.” But some have acknowledged a few “modest” successes: the extension of the Kyoto Protocol and the inclusion for the first time of “loss and damage from climate change” in the document.

The Kyoto Protocol will extend for eight years, through 2020, when a new global climate deal is expected to come into force. But as in the first period, the biggest carbon emitters — the United States, China and India — did not sign on to the protocol. And those that signed up to a second period, such as Norway, Australia and the European Union, are not obligated to raise their emission cuts beyond current levels.

Loss and damage

While there has been no agreement on the establishment of an international mechanism that will resolve the issue of funding developing countries’ losses and incurred damage due to climate change, some believe the mere inclusion of the wording into the final text sends a “significant” shift on how the international community tackles climate change.

“It will be the first time the size of the bill for failing to take on climate change will be part of the U.N. discussions. Countries need to understand the risks they are taking in not addressing climate change urgently,” Greenpeace political adviser Ruth Davies said, the Guardian reports.

A number of nongovernmental organizations have advocated for losses and damage to figure in this year’s conference. A report presented at the conference highlighted the worsening natural disasters that occurred around the world since 2000, hoping participants would see its importance.

“If we had had more ambition [on emissions cuts from rich countries], we would not have to ask for so much [money] for adaptation. If there had been more money for adaptation [to climate change], we would not be looking for money for loss and damage,” negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States Ronald Jumeau said.

The United States has been adamant in its stand that financing for losses and damage should be part —and not on top — of the $100 billion a year funding developed countries pledged by 2020. A number of Western donors have stayed clear from committing to new funding schemes amid a tight fiscal climate.

“In the end, you can’t squeeze blood from a stone,” U.N. Development Program Administrator Helen Clark told Reuters at the conference.

Discussions on where and how funding for loss and damage will be disbursed, however, will have to wait until next year’s conference in Warsaw, Poland.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.