By Prarthana Mitra
As delegates from 178 nations are trying to smooth out the details of the Paris climate accord and make it work, negotiations have reached an impasse regarding the developed countries’ $100 billion financial pledge.
The Bangkok conference (September 4-9) made progress on several issues over the framing of a conclusive rulebook for implementing the landmark 2015 Paris accord. But negotiators arrived at a crossroad regarding the plan for building sustainable projects in the developing world, which requires an annual investment of $100 billion from developed countries.
Disagreements over funds and accountability
All 178 nations were supposed to arrive at a conclusive arrangement at the end of the six-day meet, before the final round of talks at the COP 24 summit (Poland) in December, according to United Nations Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa.
“Only limited progress has been achieved here in Bangkok,” said Espinosa, in a briefing in Bangkok ahead of the meeting’s close. “For Katowice to be successful, work needs to be sped up.”
In 2015, the Paris deal promised $100 billion every year to countries battling floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels. Over the past week in Bangkok, poor and rich nations alike pledged to take comprehensive steps against greenhouse gases for the first time. But regarding the financing of projects in developing nations, first world nations whose spending commitment is due to start in 2020, voiced concerns about the drain on their budget and resources. By September 9, very little headway was made over how to make funds available or these projects.
Disagreements arose over how countries should be treated when it comes to assessment and reporting of progress. Developing countries have volubly argued for leniency since they don’t have the same resources, while demanding transparent and predictable funds for investing in technologies and carbon reduction.
These contentions remained till the last day, preventing delegates from conclusively framing these sections of the rulebook. The co-chairpersons of the panel, delegates from New Zealand and Saudi Arabia, have instead been asked to continue working on the text after the summit’s end.
Conclusive framework for carbon credit markets
Texts outlining new global carbon markets were prepared which will allow countries to voluntarily trade emission-reduction credits bilaterally via a new international program, known as the Sustainable Development Mechanism. The negotiators also proposed to create new regulatory bodies to oversee these markets, listing ways to oversee the SDM, in a manner similar to the existing Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board.
EU carbon allowances, which trade in the world’s biggest emissions market, skyrocketed on Friday to their highest in a decade. A registry to track transactions between nations would also be formed. The credits will enable countries to meet emission targets listed under Paris.
The US, meanwhile, has been causing further roadblocks. While no longer a part of the historic accord following Trump’s withdrawal from it last year, Washington has been accusing of blocking crucial UN resolutions and talks concerning the developed nations’ pledge to help poorer countries.
The US has also tabled a proposal with support from Japan and Australia that seeks to remove rules on how countries account for their climate action funding, reported AFP, which means rich nations can get away with commercial loans and existing state funding as part of the $100 billion pledge. With the European Union refusing to take a firm stand, the deeds of the deal still look sketchy with three months from finalisation.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.