U.N. climate change talks: it’s really all about the money

Commentary by Marita Noon - “Rich countries are still not pledging enough money to begin financing a shift to a cleaner global economy,” reports the Financial Times (FT) in its coverage of the United Nations climate talks in Warsaw that ended with little more than a “vague road map on how to prepare for a global climate pact they’re supposed to adopt in two years.”
     Leading into what has now been called an “unsatisfactory summit,” predictions suggested the “talks could collapse because of a lack of financial support from rich nations.” Delegates from developing countries, such as Ecuador’s lead negotiator Daniel Ortega, believe “an effective 2015 emissions reduction agreement has to be based on a clear financial package.”
     Ortega stated: “I’m not personally expecting any commitment by Warsaw. What we need to have is a clear roadmap of how the discussions of financing will allow us to have a clear idea of commitments by 2015.”
     Even low expectations like Ortega’s were dashed when, on the opening day of the climate talks, November 11, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government produced a document, outlining its position at the Warsaw conference, which boldly stated: “Federal cabinet has ruled that Australia will not sign up to any new contributions, taxes or charges at this week’s global summit on climate change.” The Australian points out: “This rules out Australia playing any role in a wealth transfer from rich countries to developing nations to pay them to decrease their carbon emissions.” But, perhaps, the most dramatic line in the government document is: Australia “will not support any measures which are socialism masquerading as environmentalism.”
     A few days later, November 15, Japan announced that “its emissions would increase slightly rather than fall 25 per cent as promised in 2009.” Japan was struggling to meet its previous emissions promises—which were the most aggressive of any big developed country—even before the Fukushima accident prompted the shutdown of its 50 still-operable nuclear reactors and its corresponding rise in the supplemental use of fossil fuels. Read full column