COPENHAGEN:

Poor countries encouraged but wary of U.S. funding proposal

COPENHAGEN -- Leaders of poor countries today said they were pleased about but distrustful of the United States' announcement that it will contribute to $100 billion in annual international funding to help the most vulnerable countries cope with climate change.

From Senegal to Burkina Faso, top officials told E&E that the money is a step in the right direction, but not enough. Many noted that wealthy countries have a history of not living up to pledges. And, they insisted, emissions pledges remain weak.

"If this is good money and nobody is going to be alive to get a dime of it, how far does this take us?" asked Hama Arba Diallo, a member of Parliament from Burkina Faso.

We want to exist as a nation," said Tuvalu Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia. "That is why we are making all the noise. We don't want to disappear from this Earth."

The U.S. secretary of State arrived in Copenhagen this morning and sparked a day of high drama at the U.N. climate talks here. She pledged support for the $100 billion in annual funding as long as developing countries met U.S. demands. Top among them: transparency. The United States wants China, India and others to take binding carbon cuts subject to review and verification.

Meanwhile, a leaked internal memo from the United Nations climate secretariat's office obtained by E&E shows the combined current emissions pledges of all countries would only keep carbon concentrations at about 550 parts per million, at least three degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Greenpeace climate campaign manager Cindy Baxter called the memo "explosive," adding it shows the world would descend into "climate chaos."

"We need to see a shift in this over the next 24 hours," she said.

The Clinton announcement was widely hailed by U.S.-based environmental groups, industrialized nations and a handful of big developing countries that said it has injected energy into talks that had mostly deflated yesterday.

"It certainly helps," Raden Mohammad Marty Muliana Natalegawa, Indonesia's minister of foreign affairs, told E&E. "It helps not only in terms of the amount but also in terms of the potential game-changing nature of it."

Indonesia underscored that point moments later when the delegation openly said for the first time that it does not object to making its emission cuts open to international monitoring, reporting and verification.

Saleem Huq, a leading advocate for developing countries at the climate talks, also called the announcement encouraging.

"I think it shows a positive new sign from the U.S.," Huq said, calling the $100 billion "ballpark numbers which at least are in the right ballpark."

Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade agreed that the level of support would meet the needs of poor countries. But he also pointed out that rich nations have yet to fulfill pledges of overseas development assistance or through the Millennium Development Goals. When the money does come, Wade said, "we have difficulties at the African level to have access to these funds."

What agency oversees the money and how it gets disbursed will be a major fight in the coming months. Over the past several days, sessions aimed at working out the architecture of funding have yielded few results.

On the domestic front, House lawmakers who swarmed the Bella Center this afternoon fell out along partisan lines, with Democrats praising the money and Republican Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) criticizing it.

"I'm not sure how much the U.S. taxpayer is going to be going for this. It doesn't make any sense to borrow any amount from the Chinese and then give it back to them," he said. U.S. officials have made clear the money won't go to China, and Chinese officials have said they don't want it.

Still, Sensenbrenner said, "even if the money isn't transferred to the Chinese central bank, I'm sure the Chinese will have a lot of say about it."

House Democrats, meanwhile, said they purposely drafted the climate bill that passed the House this summer with Copenhagen in mind, working hard to get funding for international deforestation and adaptation so that a mechanism for long-term financing would be in the works. The bill includes 5 percent of allocations for avoided deforestation, which EPA models say comes to between $3.5 billion and $4 billion annually.

It was "drafted with an eye toward Copenhagen," Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. "It was not oblivious to what was happening in the world."

Alden Meyer, climate director for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said he believes that if Obama signals that he will fight to keep the forest allocations in the Senate version now under consideration, Europe could be pushed to up its mitigation efforts. The European Union has pledged to cut 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, but would go to 30 percent if other countries ante up their efforts.

Said Meyer, "It's definitely shifted the atmosphere."

Senior reporter Darren Samuelsohn contributed.

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