Rich nations renege on climate finance

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The countries most responsible for climate change have broken their promises to help the poorest countries cope with it

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The most detailed analysis to date of how well rich nations have kept promises to provide poorer ones with funds to tackle climate change was released today. The research concludes that they have collectively failed to fulfil eight substantive pledges.

Published by the International Institute for Environment and Development — the study comes as countries prepare for the latest round of intergovernmental climate-change negotiations, which begin next week in Doha.

The wealthier nations promised in 2009 to provide developing countries with US$30 billion by the end of 2012, and said this should be “new and additional” finance balanced between support for adaptation and mitigation activities. They made additional pledges about transparency, governance and the need to help the most vulnerable nations first.

But so far, only US$23.6 billion of the US$30 billion promised has been committed. And only 20 per cent of the fast start finance has been allocated to projects that will help poor nations adapt to a changing climate.

Less than half of the fast start finance is in the form of grants. The rest is loans, which means poor countries must repay with interest the costs of adapting to a problem they have not caused.

And rich nations have not provided enough transparent information to prove that their contributions are really new and not just diverted from existing aid budgets.

To examine transparency in more detail, the researchers evaluated donor nations across 24 measures. On the resulting scorecard, no donor nation scored more than 67 per cent.

“Without transparency about how and when rich countries will meet their climate finance pledges, developing countries are left unable to plan to adequately address and respond to climate change,” says co-author Timmons Roberts of Brown University in the United States, whose Climate and Development Lab led the research.

The poor track record of rich nations in meeting their fast start finance pledges has raised serious concerns that these countries will also renege on their bigger promise to ensure that US$100 billion flows to developing nations each year by 2020 to help them to respond to climate change.

Download report (pdf)