Climate Aid Reaching $62 Billion Placates Developing World

Aid for projects designed to help developing nations cut emissions and cope with global warming rose to $62 billion last year, suggesting richer nations are starting to make good on their promises to boost payments to $100 billion by 2020.

Payments in the form of support from governments and investment from companies rose by almost a fifth since 2013, according to a report on Wednesday from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Climate Policy Initiative. About $10 billion a year was flowing in the three years through 2012.

The report debunks an accusation frequently made by UN envoys from poorer nations that the developed world is failing to deliver on the 2009 pledge to ramp up annual aid toward the $100 billion goal. Clarity on climate aid is one of the keys to unlock progress in the three decades-old United Nations effort to devise a global deal to fight climate change that binds all nations to cut or limit their fossil fuel emissions.

“Climate finance is critical to the negotiations, and this shows there is progress,” Barbara Buchner, head of climate finance analysis at the Climate Policy Initiative in Venice, said by phone. “It’s definitely a technical and political sticking point. It helps build confidence between countries.”

Envoys from more than 190 nations will gather in Paris in December in an attempt to broker the agreement, six years after their last attempt failed in Copenhagen. They aim to restrict emissions from burning oil, coal and gas to curb rising temperatures that threaten to raise sea levels, lengthen droughts and strengthen storms.

‘Robust’ Estimates

Since the Copenhagen meeting, when the aid pledge was made by U.S. President Barack Obama and other leaders, the G77 group of more than 130 developing nations has repeatedly called on industrialized donors to set out a road map with financial milestones leading up to 2020 – a demand rebuffed by the U.S., Japan and European nations.

An Obama administration official said the report demonstrates that the differences between developed and developing nations on dealing with climate change have begun to recede. Countries like China and South Korea will play an increasing role in helping to fund the global response to climate change, according to the official, who asked for anonymity to discuss administration strategy.

The estimates, described as “robust” in the report’s forward by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria, are more precise than previous efforts to calculate climate aid. The UN last year said annual flows totaled from $40 billion to $175 billion.

Multilateral banks and funds accounted for $20.4 billion of last year’s funding, according to the report. In the past month, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank and Asian Development Bank, which all help finance projects in developing nations, have announced increased funding for renewable energy, energy efficiency and recycling projects.

Coal Excluded

The researchers excluded funds, including $3.2 billion from Japan, that were directed to high efficiency coal plants. The report didn’t provide a breakdown by donor country because some of the data are yet to be made public, and researchers also were given access to some project-level information so that they didn’t double-count the same money, according to Buchner.

The OECD and Climate Policy Initiative, an analysis firm based in San Francisco, were asked to carry out the analysis by the governments of France and Peru. France will host and spearhead this year’s UN climate conference in Paris, and Peru did so last year in Lima.

The report comes less than two weeks after the two largest emitters, the U.S. and China, announced new initiatives to cut carbon pollution. Taken together, the series of announcements signal unprecedented momentum that should ease the path toward a global climate agreement in December, the Obama administration official said.

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