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Doha battles West silence on green aid

Doha (Qatar), Dec. 6: The UN climate talks here seemed deadlocked tonight in the absence of a collective pledge from developed countries to raise aid for developing countries to tackle climate change, but there were hints of a compromise being worked out.

The sticking point appeared to be America’s refusal to put numbers on the table while expressing support for the Green Climate Fund, a mechanism for money transfer from rich nations to poor countries to help the latter battle climate change.

Negotiators warned that the conference, which ends tomorrow, could collapse if the stalemate wasn’t broken.

“If you don’t have a specific and appropriate mid-term financial pledge from the developed countries for the Green Climate Fund for 2013 to 2019, the entire deal can break down. All the improvements of the past two years since Copenhagen may then be destroyed,’’ warned a senior negotiator from one of the least developed countries.

In Copenhagen, the US had taken the lead in proposing a fast start to the Green Climate Fund with $30 billion for three years till 2012, and a long-term fund of $100 billion a year from 2020. But nothing was stated about the period in between, the assumption being the funds would increase proportionately during that time.

Late today, the “Basic” group of countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) hinted they were prepared to go soft on the developed countries in the interests of a deal. The rich nations would only have to agree to the Kyoto Protocol being extended beyond December 31 this year and to “reasonable financing of the Green Climate Fund”.

“There are a number of outstanding issues but as of now in Doha, we have to have an agreement on the extension of the Kyoto Protocol... and mid-term finance-related issues” pertaining to the Green Climate Fund, Chinese delegation head Xie Zhenua told a meeting.

The tone of compromise was apparent as the negotiator praised “six countries” that had promised mid-term finance “to a scale and volume not less than earlier support’’. He acknowledged the “economic difficulty’’ the developed countries faced in providing the funds, echoing the logic cited by many of the rich nations.

Sources said talks were on to ensure phase-wise mid-term fund transfers, such as $40 billion in the first three years with a commitment to later increase it to $60 billion. The vulnerable countries want it to be $60 billion for the first three years.

From India, Mira Mehrishi, an official from the environment department, was at the meeting.

Earlier in the day, International NGOs such as Greenpeace, Oxfam, WWF, Friends of the Earth, Action Aid and Christian Aid had accused America of hindering the negotiations by refusing to agree on enhanced funding.

“The world is facing a serious emergency… (but) rich industrialised countries have spent the two weeks in Doha removing even the bare minimum of what would be required to have an agreement on emissions cuts, public climate financing and action on loss and damage,” reads their join statement.