US mulls climate finance bill ahead of Copenhagen

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While the US Senate seems to be far from reaching a compromise on a climate change bill aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Senator John Kerry has unveiled a proposal to help developing nations to combat global warming and adapt to climate change.

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry presented a bill which provides international aid for forest preservation and creates a new programme to help deploy low-emission energy technologies in developing nations. It also authorises new adaptation aid.

The plan is to serve as the foundation for the United States’ international financial commitment to be presented at the UN climate confeence Copenhagen. 

With a two-week international summit on global warming convening in Copenhagen on Monday, countries are looking to the US Congress to see what commitments will be made by the world’s second-leading emitter of greenhouse gases. Scientists say these gases contribute to climate change.

US President Barack Obama, scheduled to travel to Copenhagen, said last week the United States will aim to reduce its carbon emissions by around 17% by 2020 (2005 levels). 

Nine Democratic senators who have expressed concerns about climate legislation wrote a letter to Obama on Thursday (3 December) urging him to insist on 10 principles in Copenhagen. Those include addressing the trade implications of climate policy, a key concern of manufacturing states, which fear further job losses from legislation.

Last October, EU leaders agreed on the need to provide €100 billion a year to fund climate efforts in developing countries, but failed to commit the EU to any specific sums, delaying their decision until after Copenhagen.

Between €22-€50 billion a year would have to come from international public financing, but how much the EU would fork out will depend on “comparable commitments” from other countries, EU leaders said at the conclusion of a two-day summit on 30 October (EURACTIV 30/10/09)

Yvo de Boer, the top United Nations climate official, repeated yesterday that a deal on short-term international financing is a key ingredient to reaching an international climate accord in Copenhagen. He said a pledge of $10 billion annually in the 2010-2012 period is needed. 

EU leaders agreed that €5-€7 billion per year will have to be made available in the period before the entry into force of the new climate treaty. But the EU’s share will only be determined after Copenhagen, the October summit conclusions stated.

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