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Geneva talks end as ministers seek deal on climate financing

The Guardian

Environment ministers from over 46 countries have agreed to lay the groundwork for a breakthrough climate financing agreement at the up-coming UN summit in Mexico.

This informal, high-level meeting provided an opportunity for an exchange of views among parties on climate financing – a major issue in the development of a global agreement on climate change.

The dialogue was chaired by Swiss Federal Councillor Moritz Leuenberger and Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa. Both praised the constructive atmosphere at the talks in preparation for the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun.

The aim of the climate dialogue was to raise awareness among the invited countries of the challenges involved in the financing of measures to deal with climate change. It was also intended to discuss possible financing methods with a view to exerting a positive influence on the formal climate negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Swiss Environment Minister Moritz Leuenberger and Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa chaired the informal discussions and in their statements on Friday, September 3, 2010 were generally positive about their outcome. "We debated openly, often outside of our traditional negotiating positions and explored the issues together. In this way we increased our understanding of the problems and the possible solutions," said Leuenberger. According to Leuenberger, consensus was reached as to the need for a fund for the long term financing of climate action.

It was not planned to make any decisions in Geneva. Nonetheless, Moritz Leuenberger described the meeting "as a success because new ideas were discussed here and the ministers present worked together in an atmosphere of mutual trust." According to Leuenberger this trust had been damaged after the Copenhagen climate conference and needed to be rebuilt.

For Patricia Espinosa, who will chair the forthcoming climate change conference in Cancun, the informal meeting in Geneva represented an important milestone in the preparation for the Cancun conference. The Climate Dialogue clearly demonstrated how essential it is that a viable finance solution be found: "Finance is one of the key issues in the resolution of the climate problem," said Espinosa.

Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change also participated in the Climate Dialogue. She thanked Switzerland and Mexico for the organisation of the Climate Dialogue and stressed that the finance issue is one of the important pillars of the international climate negotiations. According to Figueres, the Geneva Climate Dialogue showed that transparency will prove to be a crucial element in re-establishing confidence in international climate policy in the aftermath of the Copenhagen climate change conference.

In accordance with the Copenhagen Accord, to avoid further climate change and mitigate its already noticeable consequences, USD 100 billion is to be made available annually from 2020 through the mechanism of a climate fund. Among the topics discussed in Geneva was the possible form to be taken by such a fund, how it would be financed (public and private sources) and how the various funding flows in the climate sector can be monitored and coordinated.

Switzerland and Mexico organised the informal meeting in Geneva to provide an opportunity outside of the formal negotiations for the discussion of the crucial question of climate finance. It was also aimed to re-build confidence in the wake of the climate change conference in Copenhagen, which failed to meet the high expectations placed on it.

The Geneva Dialogue, organised by the governments of Switzerland and Mexico, draw on discussions taking place under the formal UNFCCC negotiations, following the recent round of talks held from 2-6 August 2010 in Bonn, Germany. Participants discussed the overall architecture of the financial mechanism, including the new Climate Fund, as well as private sector engagement, governance and funding sources.

Discussions sought to foster a common understanding and build political consensus as delegates prepare for the next Conference of the Parties in Cancun, Mexico, from 29 November to 10 December 2010.

The meeting focused on both short-term climate-financing commitments, such as the pledge to provide $30 billion of funding for developing countries over the next three years, and longer term financing mechanisms, such as the carbon and aviation levies being discussed by a separate UN-appointed advisory group.

Earlier, British climate change minister, Greg Barker and government officials were privately optimistic that climate financing remains one of the areas where progress towards an international deal is continuing to be made. Barker will attend the meeting.

While negotiations surrounding emission targets remain firmly deadlocked in the wake of tense negotiations at the most recent UN meeting in Bonn, reports last week suggested industrialised countries had already met the target of committing $30 billion of “fast-start” funding over the next three years, albeit by re-assigning some funding previously earmarked for development projects.

Moreover, the advisory group appointed by the UN to investigate mechanisms for raising $100 billion a year in climate financing by 2020 is said to be making good progress and is expected to deliver its recommendations ahead of Cancun meeting.

“There has been a lot of work around climate finance and forest protection,” said a spokeswoman for the British Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), adding that there was confidence amongst negotiators that some sort of agreement could be reached over the coming months.

Gordon Shepherd, head of the WWF Climate Initiative, said that ministers gathered in Geneva could help deliver a breakthrough at the Mexico summit by increasing climate financing commitments further. “By transparently mobilising public sector finance to meet the commitments made in Copenhagen, ministers can help set the scene for progress at climate talks in China and Mexico,” he predicted.

The meeting follows tripartite talks in Berlin between British Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne and his French and German counterparts, Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo and Norbert Roettgen.

The ministers discussed tactics ahead of the up-coming meeting of the EU’s environment council, where nations are expected to agree whether or not to increase the bloc’s emissions target for 2020 from 20 to 30 per cent ahead of the Cancun Summit.

The UK, France and German recently issued a collective call for the EU to adopt a more ambitious target and Huhne, Borloo and Roettgen are likely to have discussed how best to secure support from eastern and southern European countries that have expressed opposition to the proposed change.

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.


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