Global Warming Talks Begin Today in Copenhagen

| by NRDC

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.

As 56 newspapers around the world posted in a common editorial today:

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 quality lives.

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.