CLIMATE -- December 17, 2009 at 11:33 AM ET
U.S. Cash Promise May Propel Climate Talks Forward
FROM COPENHAGEN: As the clock on Copenhagen winds down, an urgent need for compromise is in the air -- but some nations are staying firm on certain conditions for a climate deal.
For the U.S., China's willingness to allow international monitoring of emission levels has evolved into a crucial point, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's pledge Thursday to contribute to a 2020 $100 billion climate fund for developing countries turns heavily on the issue.
"It would be hard to imagine, speaking for the United States, that there could be the level of financial commitment that I've just announced in the absence of transparency," from China, Clinton said. "So if there is not even a commitment to pursue transparency that's kind of a dealbreaker for us."
He Yafei, China's vice minister of foreign affairs, pushed back after Clinton's remarks, saying that mitigation efforts that are paid for with domestic funds should not be subject to international scrutiny.
This, he argued, "doesn't mean we are afraid of supervision, we are afraid of responsibilities, we are afraid of being monitored, no it is a matter of principle."
China, India and other developing countries have also been holding out for more ambitious emissions cuts from the developed world. But China's He also said the time for compromise has come and pushed for countries to come together and leave behind matters blocking progress.
"We should not continue to dwell on those issues that divide us," he said. "We should go for consensus."
The African bloc is struggling with its own catch 22 as Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi announced that he supports a scaled back $100 billion annual fund by 2020, which lines up with the U.S. offer, but is lower than many developing nations wanted and the $150 billion the EU has said would be needed.
"My proposal dramatically scales back our expectation of the level of funding in return for more reliable funding and a seat at the table in the management of such fund," he said. "Because we stand to lose more than others, we have to be flexible."
Head spokesperson of the African group, Algeria's Kamel Djemouai, said all options are now on the table.
"We are having many discussions, we are trying to consider all the options ... we are not excluding any possibility at this stage," Djemouai said, but emphasized "no deal is better than to have a bad deal, particularly for Africa."
U.N. leader of the summit Yvo de Boer offered few encouraging signs at a mid-day briefing, aside from agreement by the parties that the only two text that will be considered for the duration of the summit are the texts that were worked on in an official capacity at the summit this week, a major step, but hardly enough to brag about with only one day left in negotiations.
"Hold tight," de Boer told reporters Thursday. "Mind the doors. The cable car is moving again."