Copenhagen blog 5: The money is on the table | World Development Movement

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Copenhagen blog 5: The money is on the table

By Guest, 11 December 2009

Tim Jones, former WDM policy officer, writes from Copenhagen

Along the streets of Copenhagen there are happily parked bikes with no locks. With my locked bike stolen a few weeks ago, I am jealous of the bike safety which permeates the Danish capital.

The main news in Copenhagen is from Brussels. Gordon Brown and Nicholas Sarkozy are making the headlines with ‘€2.4 billion [£1.5 billion] a year to help poor countries tackle climate change’.

If you read yesterday’s blog, the bribe is now on the table.

Actually a lot of it was taken off the table and put into the Bank a while ago.

The British Prime Minister has said the UK is willing to contribute £1.5 billion over 2010 to 2012 to a ‘fast start’ climate fund; £500 million a year. With similar pledges by the French, there is a little more from other European countries to reach the €2.4 billion figure.

However, £800 million, more than half of the UK’s ‘pledge’, has already been given, all of it to the World Bank. It appears that one way of getting governments to fulfil pledges is to offer money which has already been spent.

But European leaders failed to announce anything beyond 2012. The British and French have said taxes on financial transactions, and on aviation and shipping, should be looked into to raise money in the future. Which is good. But for now it means nothing.

With all the money going through the World Bank, it will become the Climate Bank for many years to come, ensuring the money remains under the control of the UK, France and whichever other rich countries join in. Powerful countries can continue to determine who should receive the money, what conditions are attached to it and what it can be spent on.

Ambassador Lumumba, who represents developing countries at the climate talks, reacted to Gordon Brown’s announcement in a meeting with NGOs by contrasting it with the hundreds of billions the UK has spent bailing out the banks.

Ambassador Lumumba went on to comment that Gordon Brown has said the cost of inaction on climate change is irreparable, but the UK Prime Ministers’ actions show no evidence that he believes that.

With the money announced it can now be used over the coming week to get countries on side, and distract attention from rich countries failure to offer to make any significant reductions in their own emissions. For example, the US is apparently telling Lesotho it can have $7 million, if the southern African country cooperates over the next few days.

Hopefully it will be seen that the money on offer from the UK is small. A lot of it has already been spent. All of it is distributing money already committed in aid budgets. And it is dwarfed by the emissions and climate debt really owed by the UK, France and the rich world. Hopefully all of this will be more visible than Danish bike locks.

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