Saturday, September 5, 2009

Climate change funding talks stall at G20

By Tom Bergin

LONDON (Reuters) - Differences between rich and developing countries prevented G20 finance ministers from agreeing measures on Saturday to curb global warming, casting more doubt on U.N. efforts to agree a new climate treaty.

Participants in the G20 Finance Ministers meeting prepare for the meeting to start at the Treasury, in central London September 5, 2009. (REUTERS/Geoff Caddick/Pool)

Industrialised nations had pressed to include climate change financing on the agenda of a meeting of G20 finance ministers but met resistance from emerging nations including China, who fear the proposals could stifle their economic growth, a G20 source said.

A draft statement from the meeting seen by Reuters omitted any reference to discussion of richer nations' plans to use both public and private sector financing to cut CO2 emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

U.S. President Barack Obama said in July that finance ministers should report on climate finance at a Sept. 24-25 G20 leaders' summit in the U.S. city of Pittsburgh, raising expectations of progress this weekend in London.

Emerging nations in the G20 club of industrialised and developing countries said their opposition to discussing climate change funding was purely procedural.

"We reaffirm the UNFCCC should be the main channel for international negotiations of climate change," the finance ministers of Brazil, Russia, India and China said in a statement on Friday, in reference to the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change, the body that overseas drafting of the new treaty.

However, developing nations are suspicious rich countries are trying to avoid paying the full amount needed to tackle climate change, and seeking to push some of the financial burden on to them.

"Many developing countries are concerned that the global issue of climate change will constrain their ability to industrialise without creating additional costs," said Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati on Friday.

Developing nations are especially sceptical of proposals for private sector funding of the fight against climate change. They are keen for developed countries' governments to stump up the cash needed.

The failure to make any progress on the issue puts more pressure on the leaders in Pittsburgh and will boost fears that a UN meeting in Copenhagen in December to agree a new treaty on climate change, to succeed the Kyoto Treaty, will not be successful.

The global economic crisis has made a deal more difficult to achieve.

With only three months to the Copenhagen conference, countries are still far off agreeing CO2 cuts that would be consistent with limiting climate change to levels scientists deem acceptable.

Differences also remain on how to pay for mitigation measures and the transfer of CO2 reducing technology to poor nations.

(Additional reporting by Sebastian Tong and Carolyn Cohn)

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