Copenhagen Crunch: Amid Chaos, Clinton Proposes $100B Fund

On the second-to-last day of the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen, there’s gridlock for both the negotiators and for many attendees trying to get into the jam-packed Bella Center. Amid the chaos, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced (see video clip) on Thursday that the U.S. would work toward mobilizing a $100 billion per year fund (from both public and private sources) by 2020 to help developing countries mitigate greenhouse gases — if the world’s major economies meet certain requirements of an agreement.

The sticking point for Clinton’s announcement is clearly China’s willingness to provide transparency for its emissions reductions. Throughout the negotiations in Copenhagen China has balked at providing “measurable, reportable and verifiable” transparency for its emission reductions and Clinton said in the Q&A portion of the press conference on Thursday that China’s lack of commitment to transparency would be “a deal breaker” for such a $100 billion annual fund.

So the potential funds carry some very specific conditions. And the funds are actually on the lower end of what some developing and developed nations have been calling for. As UN Climate Chief Yvo de Boer put it in a press conference later in the day on Thursday in Copenhagen (see YouTube clip) “it’s good that there has now been a statement of support for a clear number on long term finance,” but “now the discussion will have to take place with parties about whether they feel that sum is adequate.”

Clinton’s announcement also was unclear on how much the U.S. would commit to such a $100 billion fund. Clinton said the funds would come from a variety of sources including “public and private, bilateral and multilateral, and alternative sources of finances,” and would have a “significant focus on forestry and adaptation,” particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable countries.

While the announced funds might not lead to any type of deal or agreement in Copenhagen, the news is the most positive to come out of the negotiations all week. As Clinton noted in her speech “the talks have been difficult,” “challenges remain,” and “it’s no secret we have lost precious time in these last days.” Or to put it more bluntly as the heads of state arrive on Thursday and Friday the negotiations have turned into a lot of angry posturing from both developed and developing nations and delegates have made progress on very few of the key issues — including emissions reductions targets and long term financing.