Yvo de BoerYvo de BoerThe global community should be investing $300 billion annually to combat global warming, according to U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer. De Boer, the executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, says the world needs to be spending $100 billion annually to help vulnerable communities adapt to the impacts of climate change, and another $200 billion each year to shift the global energy mix away from fossil fuels.

“The world will need a phenomenal amount of money to change its energy supply from fossil fuels to cleaner sources and to adapt to climate change,” de Boer said Friday.

According to a U.N. Environment Program news update:

With 110 days left until the Copenhagen Climate Conference, only “limited progress” was made at the most recent United Nations climate change talks where financing to cut and cope with climate change proved to be a major sticking point among negotiators. …

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De Boer estimates the annual cost of climate change adaptation at US$100 billion per year. This is the amount needed to cope with natural disasters such as flooding and drought that will result from increased warming. Meanwhile, he pegs the cost of cutting global emissions at US$200 billion annually.

Currently, the draft text contains 200 brackets indicating points of disagreement between negotiators, who differ on who should bear the financial burden of the climate change challenge.

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Nevertheless, De Boer stressed that a U.N. climate pact to be agreed upon in Copenhagen should set up a fair mechanism for raising long-term funds, rather than compel countries to contribute specific amount. “A robust burden-sharing formula is the most important thing.”

De Boer also recommended that countries participating in the Copenhagen Conference, open negotiations with some cash on the table, perhaps US$10 billion.

At the G8 Summit in July, UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner noted that a successful Copenhagen Summit depended on the political will of world leaders to make good on their Green Economy pledges which entails investing heavily in renewable energies and energy efficiency.

A fair and “robust burden-sharing formula” would presumably imply that as the world’s richest nation and the world’s largest contributor to cumulative global greenhouse gas emissions, the United States, would contribute something like 1/4 to 1/3 of the total global investments required to adapt to and mitigate the climate threat. That would imply $50-66 billion annually to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency and a contribution of $25-33 billion annually to global adaptation efforts, for a total of $75-99 billion per year.

Where exactly is that money going to come from? An excellent question, and one that seems neglected by the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill now winding it’s way through Congress. After political concessions to (attempt to) silence industry opposition, that bill would invest just about $10 billion annually in clean energy and efficiency and devote just about $1.6 billion to domestic adaptation efforts and $1.9 billion to international technology transfer efforts (all values assuming a $15/ton CO2 price, and scaled proportionately at other CO2 prices).

The clean energy and efficiency investments in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus bill) put us in the right ballpark — at least on the mitigation front — investing over $60 billion annually in America’s efforts to build a new clean energy economy. But those short-term investments will expire by the end of 2010, and without an effort to build on and extend this critical clean energy spending, the U.S. will be left without sufficient funding to fulfill our fair share of global climate investments.

With the climate advocacy community primarily focused to date on establishing (and protecting already compromised) emissions reduction targets and “caps,” the Waxman-Markey bill looks poised to leave the United States a long way from the level of commitment to clean energy and adaptation investments called for the UNFCC secretariat. We’re running out of time to change that picture …