Finance is a cornerstone issue of the climate talks as countries wrangle over the money needed to cut pollution while also protecting the vulnerable. Some of the world’s countries (the U.S., Europe, and so forth) have been developing using pollution-generating energy for centuries, while others are suffering the consequences without reaping the benefits of that development. Under the current developed countries are responsible for repaying their climate debt by providing financial resources to reduce emissions, develop technology, and help countries to adapt to the intensifying impacts of climate change.
Rather than ante up, it would appear that the developed world is engaging in financial shenanigans. At the 2009 Copenhagen Summit, developed nations promised $30 billion for the following three years, but only 10% has actually been given to the countries as “new money” to implement on the ground sustainable changes. The rest of the money was found through creative accounting practices, counting existing grants and loans instead of providing the new funds that were promised.
In Paris, developing countries have pledged $100 billion in the next four years to pay for clean energy research and climate mitigation, but again, it’s not so straightforward: Developed countries are including climate finance loans in that number, loans the developing nations must repay to the rich countries and international institutions like the World Bank.
The negotiations over the financial issue ended earlier then expected when developed countries refused to engage in negotiations. “The U.S. negotiators aren’t taking Obama’s directive for leadership,” says Meena Raman, of Friends of the Earth Malaysia. “President Obama said that the developed world and the United States will assume its responsibility and will do something to combat climate change. But if you look at the way the negotiations are going, the United States negotiators and their positions in the talks are far away from assuming any responsibility. In fact, what they’re doing is shifting the responsibility to the developing world.”