U.N. Eyes Private Help in Funneling $100 Billion in Climate Aid to Developing Countries

July 14, 2010 - 5:40 AM
A pledge by rich nations in Copenhagen to provide as much as $100 billion a year of climate-related aid to developing countries by 2020 may depend in part on the generosity of private donors and other non-governmental sources.
United Nations (AP) - A pledge by rich nations in Copenhagen to provide as much as $100 billion a year of climate-related aid to developing countries by 2020 may depend in part on the generosity of private donors and other non-governmental sources.
 
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that his panel of advisers -- seeking ways to fulfill a U.N. climate summit's pledge in the Danish capital last December -- was considering private sources to deliver some of the aid promised to help developing countries deal with rising sea levels, drought and other effects of rising temperatures.
 
The panel chaired by prime ministers Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Jens Stoltenberg of Norway have been meeting this week to devise ways to set up a $30 billion annual fund by 2012 that would increase to $100 billion a year by 2020.
 
The panel also includes billionaire George Soros, White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers, the president of Guyana and ministers from Britain, France, Mexico, Singapore and South Africa.
 
"The challenges will be great," Ban told reporters. "They have to first of all identify the sources of resource -- whether it comes from public funding or private funding. I suspect that to generate $100 billion, both private and public funds would be necessary."
 
He did not specify, however, what sort of private funds might be sought -- individual, corporate or other sources.
 
Ban's advisory panel on climate financing said it plans to submit a final report in October on how to set up the fund.
 
Separately, Chris Huhne, Britain's energy and climate secretary, told reporters that private finance would be "absolutely key, because so much of the mitigation agenda is about what is effectively a new industrial revolution in all of our countries, in the developing world and the developed world."
 
He said the financing options under consideration include grants and aid from rich nations, some forms of government, bank or private lending and new taxes on shipping or aviation.
 
The fund was a key part of the nonbinding "Copenhagen Accord," an agreement brokered by U.S. President Barack Obama with China and others that signaled a new start for rich-poor cooperation on climate change.
 
The accord urged deeper cuts in emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming, but did nothing to demand them. The next hoped-for step, a legally binding international treaty requiring further emissions cuts by richer nations, remains an elusive goal of U.N. negotiations.
 
"Frankly, if we don't get the finance credibly right, if we don't come up with a set of packages or a package which the developing countries can clearly see is a real, effective, credible effort to meet the commitments that we've made, then I don't think that there is going to be a global deal," Huhne said.
 
One of most concrete actions was the pledge by richer nations to finance a $10 billion-a-year, three-year program to fund poorer nations' projects to deal with drought and other climate-change impacts, and to develop clean energy.
 
They also set a "goal" of mobilizing $100 billion-a-year by 2020 for the same adaptation and mitigation purposes.
 
Among those most affected by rising temperatures, the 11 nations that make up the Pacific Small Island Developing States expressed frustration Tuesday over the pace of progress in getting the promised climate aid.
 
The group said in a statement it fears the aid will get held up in "bureaucratic red tape" or the promised "new and additional" money from rich nations will wind up being existing development aid that is simply repackaged.