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Gears Exclusive: “Where’s the Climate Finance?” NGO Report-Back from ALBA Nations

ALBA Nations Report Back to NGOS on Climate Finance

On Monday, December 5, 2011, representatives from Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia held an informational consultation with members of NGOS on behalf of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) nations. The ALBA nations provided a report-back and analysis of the status of negotiations at this midway point in the UNFCCC conference and offered insights into the ALBA block’s negotiating strategy forward.

Traditionally, the ALBA nations have come forth with some of the most radical positions in negotiations. Bolivia in particular has repeatedly fought within the UNFCCC for policy stances which are largely considered to be unpopular within negotiations but were taken in the name of civil society. For example, last year Bolivia considered the final proposed text in Cancun to be “too weak” and stated after logging a formal block to the text that, “…we did not feel alone in opposing an unbalanced text at Cancún is that we received thousands of messages of support from the women, men, and young people of the social movements that have stood by us and have helped inform our position. It is out of respect for them, and humanity as a whole, that we feel a deep responsibility not to sign off on any paper that threatens millions of lives.”

Many NGOs have welcomed collaboration with ALBA nations in the past and have appreciated their insights into the negotiation floor. Today, The ALBA nations reported on the general far-left outlook on the negotiations thus far, and explain their positions on adaptation, mitigation and finance. GEAR Youth Media reports back will focus on the ALBA Nations position on climate finance and the Green Climate Fund. (GCF)

“Where is the climate finance?”

Paul Oakwood is the head of the Nicaraguan delegation, and has also served on the Transitional Committee for the creation of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Mr. Oakwood spoke on the ALBA nations’ position on the issue of climate finance, one of the most contentious issues in Durban and also a field in which there is increasing pressure for progress, adoption and operationalization of the GCF.

In 2010, it was decided in the Cancun Agreement to establish a Green Climate Fund. This Fund was said to have a $100 billion budget, promised by the United States in Copenhagen, delivered by 2020. However, Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Nations have stated that they can not wait that long and are calling for immediate financial assistance to help them adapt to the pressures of climate change. It was promised that there would be an additional $30 billion available called“fast-track financing” for these countries who needed immediate access to climate adaptation funding before the $100 billion is delivered.  Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and others have repeatedly assured nations that the $30 billion of fast-track financing has “almost been identified”. However, Nicaragua insisted during that the promise to find the $30 billion dollars in fast track financing has not yet been fulfilled, noting the voluntary pledges of money will be insufficient to meet the goal. At this time no other additional sources of funding have been identified.

To address the promised $100 billion of the start-up budget of the GCF, the ALBA nations also reported concerns over the reality of that funding materializing as expected. According to Oakwood, at the third meeting of the Transitional Committee in Geneva, a United States representative clarified to Nicaragua that the $100 billion which had been pledged in Copenhagen as initial start-up was not a commitment, but rather a goal, and should not be confused with funds heading to the GCF. When Oakwood asked again in Durban, the US representative confirmed that those funds are both public and private and are not destined to the Green Climate Fund, but will have a variety of uses. It was also pointed out that there is “no roadmap or accounting” for that $100 billion expected to be delivered in 2020, additionally there is no effort to find funding between 2013 and 2019.

During the report-back, Mr. Oakwood also spoke on his experience working with the Transitional Committee, which he called a “continuation of the steamroller tactics of Copenhagen and Cancun” and claimed that the process was not driven by the countries contributing to the dialogue. Developing countries came together to write and propose a base negotiating text for the TC.  This proposed base negotiating text was co-sponsored by 13 developing countries and later supported by 4 more developing countries, giving this text the support of a total of 17 out of the 25 developing nations attending the Transitional Committee. Nicaragua alleges that this document was completely ignored by the co-chairs. Instead, as in past conferences, a negotiating text authored by the co-chair was introduced to the parties late in the evening. ALBA nations felt this co-chair text was not a product of the previous conversation and dialogue had by the parties and the document was submitted to them a “take it or leave it” basis.

Oakwood feels that, once again, the recommendations of the Transitional Commitment are being proposed in a take it or leave it basis. ALBA nations find this tactic troublesome as they see many points which still need to be negotiated and address. Among the many concerns with the Green Climate Fund, Nicaragua highlighted four:

1.       Jurisdiction/Authority-ALBA voiced concern over where the GCF will be housed noting that if the fund is not under the Conference of the Parties (COP) and the United Nations (UN) it may take on a “life of its own”.

2.       Full Legal Capacity- ALBA nations note that with no legal personality parties and nations are unable on access funding directly and would need third parties, such as the World Bank, to help them access funds. Without full legal capacity, the Fund can not sign contracts. Although members of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a similar fund established in the 1990’s, spoke to the Transitional Committee about the challenges they face with this particular aspect in their organization, the addition of legal personality was ignored in Co-Chairs final document.

3.       National Designated Entity- ALBA nations reminded NGOS that every nation has their own adaption plans, polices, and programs to tackle climate change. However, as the text for the Green Climate Fund currently stands, the private sector will be able to operate directly within countries without consulting those national plans. ALBA anticipates that transnational corporations and business will use this clause to move technology as part of globalization, paying no attention to national sovereignty. This was highlighted to be a “red line” issue for ALBA and most Latin American countries.

4.       Source of Funding- How can you design a financial fund without specifying the sources of financing? Oakwood stated that the TC was told not to tackle the matter of finding sources of funding, as this was the responsibility of the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA). In Panama recently, the AWG-LCA, was also told not to deal with finding sources of funding, as this was the responsibility of the TC. Oakwood states the G20 in was tasked to climate the sources of climate finance, which would indicate that the GCF would be moved out of the UN and into the G20.  Nicaragua found this highly problematic as the G20 has no legal status and is controlled by the richest nations in the world.

ALBA nations vowed to raise their concerns during negotiations. At this time, the text on the GCF has not been negotiated but has been discussed in “informal” conversations among parties and ministers.

UPDATE:

12/7/11

As of Wednesday, it appears that a two page cover document will be produced in Durban, and considered along with the text.  We’ll be reporting back as to the progress on the development of the fund, and how the ALBA nations are moving forward with calling for an accountable and participatory fund.

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