Finance not discussed at climate talks: UN chief

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Paris (AFP)

UN climate negotiations have not broached the crucial issue of how the world pays for the fight against global warming, the organisation's climate chief told AFP Wednesday as three-week virtual talks approached their conclusion.

The discussions -- the first under the UN's watch since December 2019 -- were designed to bring countries closer together on key issues left over from previous sessions ahead of November's COP26 summit in Glasgow.

But "not all of the issues were addressed simply because there is not enough time. Finance was not addressed at the session," Patricia Espinosa told AFP.

Countries aimed to hash out final elements of the "rulebook" to the 2015 Paris Agreement governing carbon markets and how financial contributions to the climate fight are reported.

The Paris deal formalised an agreement among nations in 2010 that committed to providing $100 billion annually to countries most at risk from the impacts of climate change.

Last week G7 leaders recommitted to the goal, yet funding currently available for climate adaption is significantly below the $100-billion target.

Espinosa said the informal talks -- held online due to Covid-19 -- had largely achieved their objective in getting nations speaking again.

"We managed to get all the parties to come together and start talking about the substantive issues," she said in an interview.

"This is important because of the fact that for the past year and a half we have not been able to meet at all."

Developing nations are desperate for funding to help them recover from the damage caused by extreme weather events made more likely by climate change, as well as to prepare their infrastructure for future shocks.

Saleemul Huq, from the Bangladesh-based International Centre for Climate Change and Development, said this week that richer nations needed to stump up the $100 billion by the time G20 leaders met in Rome at the end of October.

"If the 100 Billion is not delivered BEFORE COP26 then cancel it!" Huq said in a tweet.

- Central to COP success -

Espinosa said realising the commitment on finance would be a "central element for a successful outcome at COP26".

"$100 billion is a lot of money but we also know what is required for the deep transformation that is needed is much more," she said.

"The nature of the obligation to support efforts of developing countries in this area is very different from what we see normally in development assistance.

"We are facing a problem that has an origin in the way that the developed world was able to grow and therefore we have a global problem and responsibilities," added Espinosa.

The UN climate chief said that the virtual format of talks had proven "exhausting" for delegates as negotiating sessions were held round the clock to accommodate varying time zones.

"Of course there is nothing that can substitute in-person negotiations but the fact that we have these tools available that allows us to bring together people from literally all over the world at the same time was very positive," she said.

"It was exhausting for people so probably three weeks is too much."

Espinosa said that for COP26 to be a success, nations would need to redouble commitments to slash emissions and help pay for the impacts of climate change.

"Success (in Glasgow) will be if the big message coming out of the conference is that the 1.5C goal is still within reach," she said.

"If you look at the figures it's really not so clear. But if we can show an increase in ambition that brings us closer to the goal of reducing 45 percent of emissions by 2030, that would be very important."