Here in Copenhagen the hustle and bustle surrounding the climate
talks is in full swing. In less than an hour the official opening of
the meeting will begin with welcome speeches from the leaders of the
negotiation process. You can follow it here via a webcast, youtube, twitter, facebook and more.
In advance of the negotiations my colleague Jake Schmidt has outlined the key issues
facing the negotiators in a series of blogs. And as I look forward to
immersing myself in the conference today, I’ve got just one of those
key issues on my mind – finance.
There are many issues that need to be resolved here in Copenhagen,
but the among the most important for the deal is the issue of both
short-term and long-term financial commitments. As my colleague highlighted here investments (both technology and finance) could spur developing country emission reductions.
Recent proposals from the developed world for up to $10 billion
annually for prompt start funding through 2012 are most welcome. And
the U.S. has signaled it will do its ‘fair share’ of that amount. But
even these statements of strong commitment to climate finance require
finesse to move the deal forward.
The funds must be demonstrably new (and not repackaged development
aid nor already dedicated climate funds) to meet new the challenge of
shifting to low carbon development, reducing deforestation and adapting
to climate change.
And perhaps most importantly the funds must be sustained for the
long-term. Long-term finance well-beyond 2012 is critical. Shifting
energy production technologies, tackling deforestation and adaption to
climate change is a long-term challenge. The prompt start funding
proposed over the last few weeks is critical to get this process
started but the long-term investment in the range of climate change
activities will underpin the transition to sustainable development.
Prompt start and long-term funding will only be effective if both are
provided at sufficient and predictable levels and managed in a transparent way.
The transformation will be costly, but many times less than the
bill for bailing out global finance — and far less costly than the
consequences of doing nothing.
But the shift to a low-carbon society holds out the prospect of
more opportunity than sacrifice. Already some countries have recognized
that embracing the transformation can bring growth, jobs and better
Kicking our carbon habit within a few short decades will require
a feat of engineering and innovation to match anything in our history.
These newspapers have united to demonstrate to the world the importance of investing in climate solutions now.
As NRDC’s Frances Beinecke wrote: Global
climate change is the single greatest environmental challenge of our
generation. It is, though, far more than that. It is a humanitarian
challenge. It is an economic challenge. It is a national security
challenge. And it is a moral challenge, the great moral challenge of
our time. We must rise to meet it, we must turn it around, or we will
fail our forebears and our children.
Today, world leaders are poised to take advantage of this most
unique opportunity to realign our common trajectory and invest for the
long-haul in a path that promotes jobs, energy security, and economic
sustainability. Let’s encourage them to make these commitments for
reduced emissions and climate finance a reality here in Copenhagen.