Jamaica is hopeful that the UN climate talks set for Durban, South Africa in a matter of weeks will yield substantial pledges from developed countries to the Green Climate Fund, meant to help developing countries struggling with the effects of climate change.
The fund was provided for under the Copenhagen Accord of 2009, to provide a financial mechanism under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) "to support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing countries related to mitigation", including adaptation, capacity-building and technology development and transfer.
Jamaica's senior climate negotiator, Clifford Mahlung, said yesterday that based on preparatory talks held in Panama City earlier this month, they were hopeful that there would be progress on the fund, which is to make available US$100 billion annually to developing countries up to 2020.
"We (negotiators) have carried it as far as we can. We have established a standing committee that will help in the overall operation and management of the fund. There is a transitional committee in place that is already designing the fund," he told the Observer at a workshop put on by the Ministry of Housing, Water and Environment and the National Meteorological Service, to bring stakeholders up to speed on the negotiations.
"We didn't get a text from the developed country parties who will contribute a lot to this until the last day, but at least we got that text. We have to see now how we can build on that and get solid pledges on how the funding for that particular green fund will come," Mahlung added.
Jeffrey Spooner, the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean representative on the Adaptation Fund Board, echoed his sentiments.
"It is crucial that we have some results coming out of Durban. We would want to establish the Green Climate Fund because financing is extremely important for the pillars of the Bali Action Plan for technology, capacity building, adaptation and mitigation. All of these hinge on financing," he noted.
According to Mahlung, based on discussions in Panama, there were also signs that technology transfer as an agenda item could be settled.
"The work on the adaptation framework will also be operationalised. We will have an adaptation committee established that will oversee the work of adaptation... And then to have the green fund fully established... if those things happen, then it will be a good signal for countries like Jamaica that at least our concerns are being addressed in some way," he added.
Adaptation to climate change — which threatens sea level and global temperature increases as well as more frequent and/or fierce hurricanes and droughts — is deemed critical to countries of the Caribbean and other small-island states which are counted among those most vulnerable.
At the same time, Mahlung said it is critical that a decision be taken on a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, which is due to expire after 2012.
Under the protocol — adopted by parties to the UNFCCC in December 1997 — developed countries agreed to reductions in their emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, to help slow the progress of a changing climate.
"The most successful thing that would happen is to get the second commitment period... amended for another five years," he said.
Failing that, Mahlung said there are two options.
"One of them is to have a partnership with the European Union and the Group of 77 and China -- the developing country umbrella negotiating group -- that we could get enough countries to amend the protocol for it to continue. The problem with that is that if you don't have enough developed countries, then you won't have enough emission reduction targets to make that type of approach meaningful. But it could be a way out and it could give developed countries some time to get their house in order and to come in at a later stage," he said.
Another option, he said, is to "extend the first commitment period for a few more years to 2015/2018".
"So you continue under the same commitment period that you have, but you extend the time so that the trading could continue with CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) and those things," Mahlung said.
The CDM is a provision under the Kyoto Protocol that allows developed countries to fund projects in the developing world that address sustainability needs while generating emission credits they can use to satisfy their GHG emission reduction commitments in the developed world.
"It would be a tragedy really if nothing positive happens in Durban and if we have another Copenhagen," Mahlung said.