U.N.: International climate aid 'challenging but feasible'
It will be "challenging but feasible" to mobilize $100 billion in international climate assistance by 2020, according to a new report released Friday by a high-level U.N. advisory panel.
The Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, co-chaired by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, outlined a range of possible ways industrialized countries can fulfill the pledge they made a year ago in Copenhagen to provide massive assistance to the poorest countries affected by global warming, ranging from curbs on the aviation and maritime industries to setting a worldwide price on carbon of between $20 and $25 per ton.
The report can be accessed here.
It remains unclear whether developed countries--including the United States, whose politicians have sent clear signals they will resist setting a price on carbon in the near future--will be able to deliver on the financial pledge made as part of the Copenhagen Accord. In Friday's press conference, Meles--who spoke via a video link from Addis Ababa to New York--said, "It will all depend on the political will of political leaders everywhere, and in particular, the political leadership of the advanced countries."
The lengthy report estimates a carbon price of between $20 and $25 per ton could generate $30 billion a year for global climate aid if world leaders agreed to devote 10 percent of its revenues toward such a purpose. Another $10 billion a year could come from an international tax on aviation and bunker fuels, the study says, while an identical sum could be generated either through imposing a tax on some financial transactions or diverting current fossil fuel subsidies toward low-carbon development.
"The advisory group has given us the path," said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the press conference. "Now it's up to governments to act.
Meles emphasized that industrialized countries, which have emitted most of the greenhouse gases now present in the atmosphere, have a moral obligation to address the looming effects of global warming in vulnerable countries. "We are not asking for handouts from anybody," he said. "We are simply asking those who are responsible for creating the problem to partially, and I repeat, partially, make amends for our loss."
Advocates immediately seized on the report as evidence that rich nations can ease the impact of warming in the years to come. "This report officially puts to rest questions of whether it is possible to deliver on one of the key promises of Copenhagen," said David Waskow, climate change advisor for Oxfam. "This should be a clarion call to negotiators that we can crack the climate finance nut with innovative sources of public finance that don't shift the responsibility onto taxpayers. It is now up to political leaders to lay out a clear roadmap for making this public funding a reality."
But an array of obstacles could impede that from happening, including resistance to the idea of new taxes and the fact that some nations, such as the United States, have said they will only sign off on the new financial assistance as part of a broader climate deal that would require major developing countries to subject their own carbon reductions to international scrutiny.
In an interview Friday, Stoltenberg said he was under no illusions about the challenge of mustering $100 billion a year in less than a decade to help impoverished nations cope with climate change.
"There will always be resistance when we try to mobilize a hundred billion," he said. "I've never said that this is easy, but it is necessary."
Without it, he warned, it will be impossible to forge a global pact on climate. "The alternative is to accept global warming," Stoltenberg said. "Without the hundred billion there will be no agreement on climate change, on agreeing to reduce greenhouse gases."
Watch the United Nations live webcast below:
| November 5, 2010; 10:41 AM ET
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