NATIONAL Planning Minister Trevor Manuel, who is co-chair of the Green Climate Find transitional committee, said on Friday the fund's establishment at the Durban-hosted United Nations climate change talks in Durban should not be held up by ideology or pedantic nit-picking.

The conference, commonly referred to as "COP-17" has brought together almost 200 nations for two weeks in Durban in an attempt to secure future commitments to reduce global warming. The fund is needed to help the developing world - in particular small island states and least developed countries - ensure their development follows a more environmentally secure path than that of the industrialised nations in the past century. Industrialised nations promised that the fund would have $100bn a year to spend by 2020, but are pointing to the global financial crisis as a reason why they cannot pay into the fund.

Mr Manuel's comments, made at a National Business Initiative COP-17 side event, were pointed obliquely at the fund's two biggest hurdles - outright objection to it from anti-capitalist Latin American states, led by Bolivia, that do not like the transitional committee's draft fund governance document because it will have the fund "run like a business", and foot-dragging from states such as the US, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, that say the document is not watertight on governance issues.

"We don't need perfection, and we don't need ideology, we need to serve the world's poor," Mr Manuel said.

The world's leaders needed to be persuaded that climate change wrought by greenhouse gas emissions linked to average global warming was "not a future event, it is now" or negotiators would still be "debating punctuation" for some time, he said.

The almost 200 nations party to COP-17 are to discuss the transitional committee's draft again on Friday, Mr Manuel said.

Activists, nations such as SA, and negotiating blocs such as the Alliance of Small Island States, the Environmental Integrity Group, the Umbrella Group and the G77 + China, of which SA is a member, are pushing for the document to be adopted at COP-17.

Mr Manuel said the fund needed to start work next year, to ensure as small as possible a gap between the end of the $30bn "fast-start finance" fund that closes at the end of 2012 and 2020, when the Green Climate Fund is supposed to start paying out money. He put forward the idea that COP-17 negotiate a way to close that gap.

United Nations Environmental Programme (Unep) Finance Initiative head Paul Clements-Hunt said the fund would have to get up to 85% of its cash from the private sector, which meant bankers had a huge role to play.

The Unep estimate that the world would suffer $150bn in losses by next year due to events linked to climate change, such as droughts, storms and floods, had been surpassed in 2005, Mr Clements-Hunt said.

"Between 5% and 20% of global gross domestic product will be lost if we do nothing," he said.

Activists argue eliminating global fossil fuel subsidies would go a long way to helping the world battle climate change. Mr Clements-Hunt said global fossil fuel subsidies were estimated at $500bn.

"I hope December 9 (the last day of COP-17) delivers consensus on the Green Climate Fund," he said.

blaines@bdfm.co.za