UN climate talks, which began in the Mexican city of Cancun on Monday with none of the histrionics which marked Copenhagen a year ago, are hoping for a "balanced package" of commitments for industrial and developing countries alike.
"There are two broad camps," Dr. Saleemul Huq, from the International Institute of Environment and Development in London, said on Sunday. "On the one hand there is the absolutist camp, which calls for one big package and nothing else. On the other, there is the incrementalist camp, which is more pragmatic: that something achieved is better than nothing."
While industrial countries are more interested in mitigating the impact of climate change, developing countries are keen on funds to help them adapt to it. The "doables" at Cancun, according to Dr. Huq, are funds for adaptation, for reducing deforestation and facilitating transfer of environment-friendly technologies.
While industrial countries had provided some $3 billion out of $30 billion due between this year and 2012, he criticised them for not revealing how much of these funds were for adaptation. Possibly $10 billion of the total would be assigned for adaptation, which was "hardly balance".
Where these funds would go to remained under-reported and unexplained. Every developed country had its own agencies, like USAID and DFID of the UK. The second preference would be multilateral agencies like the World Bank. UN agencies would come last. "Underdeveloped countries want this funding in the reverse order," so Dr. Huq.
There was also the sticking point on whether these funds were "new and additional", as G77 negotiators called for. The paradigm was that of charity, though only a few Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands had kept the two-decade-old promise of providing 0.7% of their GDP as aid. "Climate change is not a matter of disbursing funds to anyone the giver decides, but should adhere to the 'polluter pays' principle. It is compensation to the victims, not aid," Dr. Huq said.