Negotiations in the plenary are at a stalemate due to procedural issues both in the two negotiating tracks; under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. Tuvalu and the Association of the Small Islands States have insisted that their proposal to create a legally binding agreement here be considered in an open discussion, whereas other countries such as EU and Japan favour informal consultations by the President of the conference. Today, the President is conducting informal discussions with all parties to attempt to resolve this deadlock.
One major thread of discussion is finance. Wealthy countries are obligated to provide financial support to poor nations as they struggle to adapt to the effects of climate change. This obligation is known as historical obligation, reflecting the fact that extreme weather events caused by climate change are the result of emissions caused by wealthy countries in the past. But what form will this financial support take? The $10 billion fund proposed by Gordon Brown and ratified at the Commonwealth meeting is considered short term finance. It will likely be already allocated aid repackaged as climate change adaptation money. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are concerned by this prospect as it is means that money originally allocated for hospitals will now be used to reinforce sea walls.
The $10 billion is considered short term funding for immediate adaptation efforts. There is a broader discussion around long term finance that focuses on larger amounts of funding- NGO's request $195 billion per year of which the US would cover 1/3, the EU 1/3 and the final 1/3 would be distributed amongst other other developed countries. The mechanism for distributing this funding is contentious. The US wants it to remain under US control or be directed through existing multi-lateral organisations such as the World Bank. Southern countries want the fund to be managed by the climate change secretariat, with funding allocated by independent expert panels.
Despite the stalled negotiations, the outlook is in some senses optimistic; thanks to Tuvalu, the prospect of a legally-binding agreement is back on the table. The real work will begin when Ministers arrive tomorrow.