From: Reuters
Published March 15, 2008 11:14 PM

S.Africa wants clarity, new cash in climate funds

By David Fogarty

MAKUHARI, Japan (Reuters) - South Africa called on rich nations on Saturday to spell out whether cash for a climate change technology fund was new money, and said it was unhelpful of them to label big developing countries "major emitters."

Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of G20 energy and environment ministers near Tokyo, also called for greater clarity on the management of World Bank-administered climate funds.

"We don't have time to enter into these long and useless debates," van Schalkwyk told Reuters, referring to a heated debate in the talks over the "major emitters" tag.

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"What we must do is to respect the decisions that we took in Bali: one category for developed countries, targets, reduction of emissions by comparable effort."

"And for developing countries measurable, reportable and verifiable actions, and we are committed to this."

U.N.-led talks in December launched two years of negotiations on a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, of which the G20 talks and G8 meetings this year and next are part.

"But to start confusing what we have already agreed and to dilute it, it's not helpful at all. This term is slang."

President George W. Bush backs a separate process -- the Major Economies Meeting -- comprising most G20 members, including the G8, and big developing nations Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, China and South Africa.

Combined, the group are responsible for about 80 percent of mankind's greenhouse gas emissions.

Bush initially called his forum the 'major emitters meeting' but changed the title when poorer nations objected. But at the G20 talks in Japan, U.S. officials were still using the term "major emitters."

Washington says it will accept binding commitments to cut emissions if other big emitting nations sign up too.

UNHELPFUL

"From the developing world, we regard this an attempt to create a new category on top of the two categories that we already have, Annex 1 and non-Annex 1," van Schalkwyk said, referring to two Kyoto Protocol categories.

"It is unhelpful because it is difficult to define such a category," he said. "Many of the developing countries, especially China and India, are saying that if you look at per capita emissions, we aren't a major emitter."

Van Schalkwyk also said developing nations must have greater involvement in the management of clean technology funds.

The United States, Britain and Japan have urged other nations to join their efforts to launch a multibillion-dollar fund to help developing countries switch to clean energy technologies.

Van Schalkwyk said it was only in the past few weeks that developing nations had even been consulted on the fund, to be administered by the World Bank.

It was also unclear if money going into the fund was new, or was cash already set aside as development aid, he said.

Bush has pledged $2 billion to the fund over the next three years, Britain has pledged part of its 800 million pound ($1.6 billion) Environmental Transformation Fund and Japan has announced the creation of a $10 billion financial mechanism to support developing countries.

"Take Britain, for example. All their money is ODA money and what we want to be assured of is that it is really new money that we're talking about and the developed world is not simply shifting around ODA (overseas development aid) to look better," van Schalkwyk said.

The World Bank should keep its distance from global climate talks, he said. "The World Bank shouldn't become a player in the negotiations -- the donors via the World Bank and basically then the developed countries -- because that will load the dice against developing countries."

(editing by Tim Pearce)

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