Limping to Paris
Can a Climate Deal Happen Without a Climate Fund?

The developing world isn’t going to like this. The World Bank’s climate change envoy came out against the setting up of a climate slush fund for world’s poorer nations. The Guardian reports:

“I hope there is not a number [on climate finance] for beyond 2020 at Paris. I understand the need of developed countries to ensure that finance is going to those countries but that is not it, [said World Bank special envoy on climate change Rachel Kyte]”

She accused governments at the Copenhagen meeting of making up a symbolic number in the closing days of the talks, just to try to get a last-minute deal.

“The $100bn was picked out of the air at Copenhagen,” she argued. “If you think about the global economy and the challenge for finance ministers in developed countries, I’m not sure that an abstract number like $100bn is helpful. It is not a meaningful number to a country managing its economy.”

Kyte is criticizing one of the only things the last major climate conference—in Copenhagen six years ago—actually produced. She implies that the $100 billion target set at that summit was an arbitrary goal and cautions against following up with a similar commitment in Paris this December.

But the climate funds’ problems extend beyond concerns over whether or not the nice, round target number was “picked out of the air.” The bigger issue is this: the fund remains wholly un-funded. The developed world has proved remarkably reticent to actually commit money, and with Congress holding America’s pursestrings it’s unlikely Washington is going to take the lead here.

And that’s bad news for the Paris talks more broadly. The key schism at those discussions will be between the rich and poor countries of the world, with the latter seeking (monetary) assurances from the former as a prerequisite for signing on to any kind of deal that might place green goals ahead of economic growth. Kyte’s criticisms of the climate fund and her hope that Paris moves away from that policy will make the developing world extremely nervous, and if delegates take it to heart there’s a good chance the summit won’t produce a deal.

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