POLICY: Qatar is hosting the 18th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Picture: REUTERS
POLICY: Qatar is hosting the 18th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Picture: REUTERS

THE world’s least-developed countries, which include 33 African nations, want the industrialised world to pay $600bn a year, not the pledged $100bn a year, for their adaptation to the effects of climate change, the bloc said at the United Nations’ (UN’s) climate change talks in Doha on Tuesday.

Developed nations have yet to put much cash in the kitty, despite pledging, at previous UN climate change talks, $30bn in "fast-start" finance to 2015, and $100bn a year between then and 2020.

"We need $600bn a year.… That is 1.5% of the gross domestic product of Annex 1 (a list of industrialised countries and countries with economies ‘in transition’). The $100bn a year is inadequate for our needs," the negotiating bloc’s lead finance negotiator, Evans Njewa, said.

Mr Njewa said it was difficult to say exactly how much money was already in the kitty, but the industrialised world’s failure to turn in cash has been one of the bloc’s bugbears since the funds were first pledged in 2010.

The bloc’s Green Climate Fund member, David Kalumba, said each of the least-developed countries had access to about $20m, and while this was to be "applauded" the developed world needed to make good on its promises.

"We are the most vulnerable group in the world. Most of us have rain-fed agricultural economies and our adaptive capacities are very low … adequate financial resources should be predictable, sustainable and directly accessible," he said.

The least-developed countries want the global average temperature rise limited to 1.5C°, however, this goal may already be shot through. The World Bank last week warned that the planet was on track to warm by 4C° by the end of the century.

The global financial crisis complicates things, with industrialised nations balking at handing over cash while they face financial troubles of their own. The Climate Action Network, a coalition of 700 nongovernmental organisations across 90 countries, warned that the lack of forthcoming cash was "eroding trust" at the talks.

Almost 200 countries have gathered in Doha, Qatar, for the talks that represent a last-ditch effort to secure a second commitment period for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the only global agreement ever reached on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Its first commitment period ends on December 31 and there is little or no agreement on a second.

Mr Kalumba said that the least-developed nations’ demand for an annual $600bn was "very conservative". The nations have submitted a set of proposed checks and balances on how the money is disbursed, and how they spend it, and it is up to a committee under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to thrash out the final details.

"We are yet to see how effective the standing committee will be," Mr Kalumba said.

Least-developed country bloc chairman Pa Osman Jarful said it needed to be acknowledged that Annex 1 countries had deposited some cash, but they had also been "opaque" on exactly where it had gone and to which countries.

South Africa is not deemed a least-developed country, however, it too is set to benefit from the $100bn-a-year Green Climate Fund.

KPMG SA climate change and sustainability director Neil Morris said that developing countries in Africa needed to makes choices on how to sustainably develop their industries and societies, and for this they needed to make a long-term technology decision from a point of certainty about how much funding would be forthcoming.

Without this there would be "costly mistakes" made, he said.

Sue Blaine is attending the conference on a scholarship from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.