By Cheryl Pellerin
Washington - In the months since the international community negotiated the Copenhagen Accord at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Denmark in December, 136 countries have associated themselves with the brief document that outlines key elements of a long-term global climate change solution.
Critical among these elements is finance, and the accord includes provisions for new financial help for developing countries that cannot afford to reduce their rising greenhouse gas emissions or cope with the effects of a warming planet.
The accord ( http://unfccc.int/home/items/5262.php ) includes short-term and long-term financial plans.
Developed nations committed to provide $30 billion in short-term, fast-start financing until 2012 to support developing countries' mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Over the longer term, by 2020, they committed to making sure developing countries have access to $100 billion a year in public and private funds.
"We know that a great many developing countries need assistance to change their development trajectories and to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change," Jonathan Pershing, the State Department's deputy special envoy for climate change, said July 27 in testimony before the House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment.
"The global community will need to rapidly and substantially ramp up financing, technical and technological assistance," he added. "Otherwise the world will not be able to minimize global emissions or adapt to the ever-increasing damages associated with climate change."
According to scientists, climate change will lead to population displacement from sea level rise; declines in global food supply, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia; massive losses in species diversity; and major shortages of water all over the world.
Developed countries are working out the details of their financial commitments and, according to Pershing, have made "significant strides" in increasing their fast-start contributions. So that funds can be delivered quickly, they come from existing programs and institutions like the Climate Investment Funds ( http://www.climateinvestmentfunds.org/cif/ ), the Global Environment Facility ( http://www.thegef.org/gef/ ) and established bilateral programs.
In the United States, at the urging of President Obama, Pershing said, Congress appropriated $1.3 billion for climate finance in 2010. Obama then asked for more than $1.9 billion for fiscal year 2011 for U.S. fast-start activities. Congress has not yet approved the 2011 budget.
Now in preparation for fiscal year 2012 (October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012), as part of the U.S. fast-start contribution, the administration has pledged to provide $1 billion for the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation ( http://www.un-redd.org/ ) (REDD+) program.
"It is vitally important for our overall climate diplomacy goals - and for the credibility of the Copenhagen Accord - that the U.S. make a strong contribution to fast-start finance," Pershing told the House subcommittee.
"The president's 2011 request was designed to put us on track to meet our fair share of the fast-start commitment," he said, "and we strongly urge the members of this subcommittee to support this request in full."
In 2010, Pershing said, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development ( http://www.usaid.gov/ ) are delivering $30 million for the Least Developed Countries Fund ( http://unfccc.int/cooperation_support/least_developed_countries_portal/ldc_fund/items/4723.php ), $20 million for the Special Climate Change Fund ( http://unfccc.int/cooperation_and_support/financial_mechanism/special_climate_change_fund/items/3657.php ) and $10 million for the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility ( http://www.forestcarbonpartnership.org/fcp/ ). Nearly two-thirds of U.S. bilateral adaptation funding in 2010-2011 is focused on small-island developing states, least-developed countries and Africa.
MOVING TOWARD 2020
The international community has also begun tackling the issue of long-term public financing for climate change efforts, Pershing said.
In February, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon created a 21-member High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing ( http://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/climatechange/pages/financeadvisorygroup ) to analyze financial resources that could help meet the $100 billion goal. The group has met twice ? in London in March and in New York in July ? with a third meeting to be held in Ethiopia.
The group will present its report at the end of October, in time for the 16th conference of the parties (COP-16 ( http://www.cc2010.mx/swb/ )) of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change ( http://unfccc.int/2860.php ), which begins November 29 in Cancun, Mexico.
"According to a recent analysis by the International Energy Agency, the incremental cost to keep emissions at a level that would prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius is $10 trillion between now and the year 2030," Pershing said, with the vast majority coming from countries' own public and private finances.
"The commitment to mobilize $100 billion must therefore be seen for what it is," he said, "a catalytic effort to help jump-start the world on the pathway to a cleaner economy, but quite a small share of the total effort."
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[by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State]