Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a blockbuster performance Thursday at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen. Her announcement that the US will pay its share of a $100 billion per year commitment to support developing countries with climate change in 2020 marks a huge shift in the history of climate negotiations. Both the existing UN treaties include promises of unspecified levels of support for developing country mitigation and adaptation to climate change, promises that have gone largely unfulfilled for 17 years.
The Secretary’s move today offers the crucial missing ingredients for these talks – trust and transparency. Developing countries can quickly see that the funding level is well beyond what they realistically expected to see here, which should spur confidence that a real agreement can be reached. And Secretary Clinton asked for the vital other half of the trust bargain – commitment to a system of genuine transparency where all Parties will show that they have kept their promises – both those countries contributing the dollars and all the countries making the critically-needed emission reductions. This may also reassure U.S. Senators who are concerned about competitive impacts of climate legislation.