Danish leader seeks speedy delivery of climate aid to poor nations

by Maya Kaneko

Kyodo News

Visiting Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, who chaired a U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen last December, called Tuesday for the early implementation of financial aid worth $30 billion pledged by rich countries to help poor nations grapple with the impact of climate change.

In an interview in Tokyo, the prime minister said that although the U.N. talks failed to adopt a major accord brokered by some 30 key players, the so-called fast-start financing covering a three-year period through 2012 under the accord should be fulfilled as early as possible to facilitate future climate negotiations.

“What I think is necessary and important is that . . . we try to implement whatever can be implemented immediately, especially the fast-start money, because it will send a clear signal to the developing countries that the developed world is ready to fulfill our promises made in Copenhagen,” Rasmussen said.

“That could also, so to speak, pave the way for continuing negotiations in the U.N. track. I think it is important to make that part of the accord operational as fast as possible,” he said. He expects Japan and Europe to play a leading role in pushing forward the idea.

The meeting in the Danish capital merely “took note of” the Copenhagen Accord, which is a nonbinding political pact produced after hours of backroom maneuvering by world leaders, due to opposition from some countries that complained about the closed-door drafting process.

As chairman, Rasmussen drew criticism for his handling of the U.N. meeting that adopts the principle of consensus for decision-making. But he defended the outcome, saying he does not “describe Copenhagen as a total failure.”

Noting that more than 100 countries that are responsible for over 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions have so far endorsed the pact, Rasmussen said he believes the Copenhagen Accord is a “very important steppingstone toward this final decision” on reaching a legally binding accord.

He also said that at present he does not see any alternative to the consensus-based U.N. negotiations and expects that the support for the accord from those countries would send a “clear and strong signal” to “only a few” countries that acted against it.

Global climate change talks are aimed at establishing a new framework after the first emissions-reduction commitment period for developed countries under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012. The Kyoto pact does not cover mandatory emissions cuts by China and the United States, the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters.

The Copenhagen Accord calls on developed countries to set respective greenhouse gas emissions cut targets for 2020 and for developing countries to take action to mitigate climate change. It also stipulates that the world should limit warming to no more than 2 degrees above preindustrial levels.

Some climate negotiators have recently expressed the pessimistic view that countries may not be able to adopt a legally binding accord in the next U.N. climate conference in Mexico slated for late November and early December, but Rasmussen said such a posture would send a “wrong signal.”