The time difference between our beloved big red nation and Europe means that as I turn on my computer each morning, bleary eyed with caffeine hit in hand, I find that my inbox has dramatically swelled from the night before and I’m hit in one fell swoop with all the action that unfolded at the UN climate negotiations in Bonn the day (our night) before. 

Again, the joy of time difference means that this morning, my co-tracker from the USA, Reed Schuler, had written a sensationally succinct and informative update on the negotiations, before I’ve even finished my first latte! Check it out here, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

But obviously Reed, being an American, didn’t provide any Australiana flavour, so I have below…

Break the gridlock: it's time to get a figure on the table

Break the gridlock: it's time to get a figure on the table

Money, money, money

Everyone knows that tackling climate change is going to be expensive, but, compared to the cost of inaction, it’s a bargain basement deal. Money is integral to tackling climate change, but with no decent finance offering on the table from rich developed nations there is no way we will get a deal in Copenhagen. I know that I don’t need to go into why that will be catastrophic, you guys are well aware.

So, I was pleased to hear that during the finance meeting on Tuesday the Australian delegation, amongst others, made some good noises. The Australian delegation stated that the scaling up of finance and the building of capacity to spend that money effectively needed to be substantially worked upon. And that, I quote, “more needs to be done sooner rather than later”. I think I can safely say we all agree with that!!

Unfortunately, Australia didn’t take this opportunity to put any figures on the table about the scale of money that is required to address climate change globally.

Even more problematically, the Australian delegation continued to push their belief that finance should come from the private and public sector, without being clear on how much from which sector. To address climate change with the level of urgency science demands we need big bucks on the table, and we need them now. In the short to medium term markets simply can not, and will not, be able to deliver the level of financing needed for emissions reduction and adaptation in developing countries. To address climate change globally we need a finance package that is dependable, substantial, and ensures that funds are dispensed through a simple and transparent global fund through the UN system. In short, we need government money on the table.

I am worried that the Australian government’s continual emphasis on market is code for, don’t expect much from our government. Am I being too cynical?

Rudd, and other world leaders, continuing to dance around any real commitment on finance is a significant contributor to the gridlock that the international negotiations are currently in. This gridlock must be broken if we are to have any hope of avoiding a human catastrophe. A global climate fund provides a way forward.

I think that Aphra Behn, one of the first English professional female writers, writing in the seventeenth century made a comment that still rings true today, “money speaks sense in a language all nations understand.”

It’s high time to inject some sense into the negotiations.


PS. You may remember that at the beginning of July, Gordon Brown PM of the UK, came out of number 10 to declare that Kevin Rudd had given in principle support for a $122 billion-a-year climate change fund for poorer countries. I’m not sure if Gordon knows something we don’t, but Rudd has never come out publically to confirm or deny this…