- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 17, 2009

COPENHAGEN — The United States is prepared to join other rich countries in raising $100 billion in yearly climate financing for poor countries by 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced Thursday at the Copenhagen talks.

The U.S. declaration could give a boost to the deadlocked climate talks in the Danish capital, which have faltered over disputes between rich and developing countries on greenhouse gas emission cuts and aid to poor countries most affected by climate change.

Mrs. Clinton, however, said any U.S. funds were contingent on world leaders reaching a broader climate pact at the U.N. talks in Copenhagen. Negotiations have stalled amid disputes between rich and poor countries — and between the two biggest carbon polluters, the United States and China.

Mrs. Clinton said any deal would have to include a system for ensuring that pledges to cut carbon emissions are fulfilled — a demand that China staunchly opposes because it says its climate targets are voluntary. A similar demand was made by Japan when it announced Wednesday that it would provide $15 billion in public and private money by 2012 for developing countries.

“If there is not even a commitment to pursue transparency, that’s kind of a deal-breaker for us,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters.

“There has to be a commit to transparency. We have said it consistently,” she said. “There is backing away from transparency. That, to us, undermines the whole effort.”

Mrs. Clinton said the long-term climate financing of $100 billion would come “from a wide variety of sources” and would be focused mainly on forestry and adaptation “for the poorest and most vulnerable among us.”

She urged all sides to seek common ground in the final stretch of negotiations.

“I understand that the talks have been difficult,” she said, “and we will continue doing all that we can do, but the time is at hand for all countries to find common ground.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, said the United States must offer deeper emission cuts and stressed the urgency of reaching a concrete climate agreement in Copenhagen.

“I believe this Copenhagen conference is the primary touchstone for whether we will succeed in setting a new path of global development, of sustainability,” Mrs. Merkel told lawmakers in Berlin before heading off to Copenhagen.

Mrs. Merkel called on all industrialized nations to make deeper emission cuts, but particularly singled out the United States.

“I have to be honest, an offer by the United States to cut only 4 percent from 1990 levels is not ambitious enough,” Mrs. Merkel said.

The European Union has pledged a 20 percent emissions cut that could increase to a 30 percent cut if other developed nations also make far-reaching pledges.

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Find behind-the-scenes information, blog posts and discussion about the Copenhagen climate conference at http://www.facebook.com/theclimatepool, a Facebook page run by AP and an array of international news agencies. Follow coverage and blogging of the event on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AP_ClimatePool

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