Durban finance debate down to the wire

With the caveat that nothing is certain in these climate conferences until the deal is done, it appears negotiators in Durban are poised to set up the structure for the much-debated Green Climate Fund that would help finance efforts of some developing countries to adapt to the impact climate change and curb their greenhouse gas emissions.

This is exciting, and it doesn’t mean that we expect to see large sums of money flowing into the fund this year: There’s nothing wrong with that – you can’t put money in a bank until there’s a bank in which to deposit it. It is encouraging that Germany and Denmark pledged small funds yesterday to capitalize the Fund. Hopefully that is the start to a series of further contributions from countries over the next year.

At this point countries are still fighting over what institution or country will host the fund and there’s a complicated process between approving a fund and getting it up and working.

Report of the Transition Committee

The Transition Committee created last year in Cancun has been working to set up the infrastructure and the rules governing creation of the fund.

After a year of meetings, no one is completely satisfied with the Transition Committee Report. That’s not surprising given the complexity of the issues involved. Even so, it appears the convention here has little desire to reopen the debate in its final hours and may allow some of the dissent to be addressed in a cover note to the report.

Once the report is accepted, delegates are expected to set a deadline for appointing the board to govern the fund and having its first meeting—likely by April 2012. When the board is in place, we should see the details of the governing institution take shape.

At this meeting, Parties may approve the formation of a working group on long term finance that would create a series of options for delegates to consider at next year’s climate conference in Qatar; we’re still waiting these details to unfold.

And the final issue that needs to be decided in Durban is where the fund will be housed—which institution or country will actually host the fund. For example the Food and Agriculture Organization is “hosted” by Italy and physically housed in Rome. As to be expected, many countries are lobbying vigorously for the job.

We end with the same caveat with which we started: There is still plenty of time left in Durban for this scenario to fall apart in the usual chaos and bickering of the final hours.  The report has something for everyone, and not everything for anyone.  But it appears the nuts and bolts for setting up the Green Climate Fund are ready for assembly.

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