Finance ministers in Bali count climate costs
By Gde Anugrah Arka
JIMBARAN, Indonesia (Reuters) - Forty nations held unprecedented talks about ways to slow global warming without derailing world economic growth on the margins of U.N. climate talks in Bali on Monday.
Deputy finance ministers met on the fringes of December 3-14 U.N. climate talks where more than 10,000 delegates are trying to lay the groundwork for a broader treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol global warming pact beyond 2012.
"Having this meeting...having the finance ministers meeting..itself is a breakthrough," Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said. The meeting will prepare for talks by about 20 finance ministers in Bali on Tuesday.
Trade ministers also met at the weekend, the first time the annual U.N. climate talks have expanded beyond environment ministers in a sign that combating climate change will require big economic shifts in coming decades.
The trade ministers failed to ease splits between Brazil and the United States over "green" exports.
"It's very important that we understand that climate change is an economic issue and that we address it in a range of ways," Australia's new Treasurer, Wayne Swan, told reporters.
He said the meetings were "a recognition that climate change is also a fundamental economic challenge to the world, the developed countries, and to the developing countries."
The U.N. Climate Panel, which will collect the Nobel Peace Prize on Monday in Oslo along former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, has said that the strictest measures to offset warming will slow annual world growth by 0.12 percentage point at most.
"The role of the finance ministers is to lead this discussion so that we have wider policy options," Indrawati said, referring to taxes or incentives for green technologies such as wind, solar power or "clean coal."
Karim Alloui, a vice president of the Islamic Development Bank, said issues raised in the meeting would have broad implications for lenders because they cut across many industrial sectors such as mining, energy and forestry.
A U.N. study projected that net annual investments of $200-$210 billion by 2030 were needed in cleaner areas, such as renewable energies, in a gigantic shift from dirtier fossil fuels.
Funding is expected to come from government budgets and multilateral organizations but a substantial amount would come from the private sector.
Building protective barriers against sea level rise around 50 of the coral islands making up the Maldives in the Indian Ocean alone could cost $1.5 billion, according to Angus Friday, head of a group representing small island states.
The 190-nation climate talks are seeking to agree on the ground rules for launching two years of negotiations on a broader climate change pact involving all nations to succeed or replace the Kyoto Protocol from January 1, 2013.
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(With extra reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison and Rob Taylor in Canberra; editing by David Fogarty and Alister Doyle)