OSLO - A U.N.-led drive to raise cash to help poor nations cope with global warming is looking fairly encouraging, three days before a 190-nation climate conference, the U.N.'s top climate official said on Friday.
Yvo de Boer also expressed hopes that U.S. President Barack Obama would announce significant new aid on December 9 when he visits Copenhagen near the start of the December 7-18 talks.
Raising cash to help poor nations shift economies away from fossil fuels and adapt to environmental changes -- such as shifts in monsoon rains, desertification or mudslides -- is one of the big obstacles to a new U.N. deal to fight climate change.
On the financial side, I think things are looking fairly encouraging, de Boer told Reuters in a telephone interview, saying nations including European Union members, Australia, Japan and Norway had indicated willingness to contribute.
De Boer wants quick-start funds of $10 billion a year from 2010-12 to launch a deal, with agreement on mechanisms to raise far more by 2020 to help poor nations.
I hope that Obama will announce a significant financial contribution, de Boer said. What that is going to be I don't know.
Obama has requested $1.2 billion for international climate finance in the 2010 budget and a leading U.S. senator, John Kerry, has urged $3 billion for 2011. Some analysts suggest that Obama could pick up Kerry's suggestion in Copenhagen.
NAIL DOWN CASH
De Boer said any promises of cash need to be nailed down in a very precise list of who will contribute what.
A collective promise with unclear accountability is not going to help, he said.
He welcomed promises of targets for greenhouse gas curbs by countries including China, the United States, India, Brazil and Indonesia in recent days. He said the Climate Change Secretariat was trying to work out what impact the offers would have on world emissions.
Part of the big challenge for me is coming out of Copenhagen with an agreement that works for small developing countries as well, de Boer said. They needed financial support for efforts to clean their economic growth.
Sharing out the burden of curbs on emissions is the other big barrier for the talks.
De Boer said promises of cuts in emissions by rich nations were still short of the 25 to 40 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2020 advanced by a panel of U.N. experts as the level needed to avoid the most dramatic effects of climate change.
De Boer also sided with developing nations in a dispute over the fate of the current Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding deal for curbing greenhouse gas emissions by developed nations until 2012. The United States has not ratified Kyoto.
If you've only got one pair of shoes, don't throw them away before you've got new ones, he commented.
Developing nations accuse the rich of trying to kill Kyoto by merging it into a single new U.N. deal. They want the rich to accept deep cuts in a new phase of Kyoto while developing nations sign up for a separate, less strict regime