Seeking sustainable development in a climate changed world

This page in:

The weekend in Copenhagen was characterized by a plunging thermometer outside - forcing demonstrators to wrap up ever warmer on the streets of the city. Inside the Bella Center, a whole new set of people have arrived, just as negotiations enter into in a fragile state. The second week is VIP week, and so we add around 200 limousines to the general melee.

But there is good news: huddled in various hotels and echoing "offices" in the delegation portakabins, national actions are being readied irrespective in some ways of the agreement reached.

And in the finance discussions, for the first time in a draft the words "private finance" appeared. The challenge of bridging the $10bn per annum (perhaps) that negotiators hope will be pledged as fast-start funding, to the $200bn or more indicated as necessary, will be resolved in off-site discussions between financiers, governments, some MDBs and others concerned to develop the ability to quickly leverage money to scale.

Only in Copenhagen does private finance take on a sickly hue. For all other global crises, poverty, food, energy - the answers are increasingly in private sector development and public-private partnerships (PPPs). But the politics of international conventions mean that private sector finance magics up the specters of suspicion, substituting for the moral tax of the developed world's responsibility to pay for developing countries adaptation costs, north benefiting from south, and watering down the authority of the convention. However, looking for what finance can be deployed to do what, there will be funds that will have climate impacts, but which are not earmarked as climate funds. For example, there are funds in middle income countries (Asian pension funds) that can be deployed.

Perhaps another reason why we cannot have open, practical discussions about private and public finance for the kind of sustainable development needed to meet climate goals and development goals is because for too many years the climate process has been in the throes of infatuation with the carbon markets. Now facing the uncertainty of what flows will be generated by the carbon market, governments are turning away to other, more mundane, and at-hand solutions.

Perhaps one of the hopes of "Hopenhagen" is that this will be the COP that marks the end of carbon fundamentalism, and we can get back to what climate is about: sustainable development in a climate changed world.


Rachel Kyte

Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000