Climate summit stumped for lack of money

December 6th, 2008 - 9:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Poznan (Poland), Dec 6 (IANS) Lack of money from industrialised countries to help developing nations combat climate change brought the Dec 1-12 UN climate change summit to a stalemate at the end of its first week here.”Through the G-77 and China group, we have put a number of proposals on the table on how industrialised countries can help finance developing countries to combat the climate change from which we are suffering already,” a senior member of the Indian delegation at the summit told IANS on condition of anonymity. “But we are not getting any response.”

This feeling was confirmed to IANS by delegates from the governments of China, Bangladesh and Brazil, though nobody was willing to be quoted by name “because the negotiations are at a delicate stage and we don’t want them to break down completely”, as a delegate from Bangladesh put it.

As over 3,000 delegates from 186 countries grappled behind closed doors with the central issue of money, more than 5,000 representatives from over 400 NGOs kept clamouring outside for some agreements that would make it possible for a global treaty by the end of 2009.

The end of 2009 is considered the deadline for the treaty as the current phase of the Kyoto Protocol meant to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions ends in 2012, and governments will need at least three years to ratify the treaty.

GHG emissions are leading to climate change that is already affecting farm output, increasing the frequency and severity of droughts, floods and storms and raising the sea level, with developing countries bearing the brunt of the effects. In the last decade, India has lost 4,532 people to extreme weather events caused partly by climate change.

The NGOs, which want to keep these facts at the foreground of the negotiations and have described the climate crisis as being far worse than the current economic crisis, expressed their frustration more openly Saturday.

“We’re in the usual mess at this stage of the negotiations,” said Richard Worthington of WWF South Africa.

“Japan, Canada and Australia are being especially obstructionist at the negotiations.

“Japan came up with the extraordinary statement that industrialised countries could not become the ATM of the world, though it is these countries that have put all the extra greenhouse gases in the atmosphere today and the basic polluter-pays principle says they must pay.”

Worthington said: “The G77 and China are understandably frustrated, as even the EU (European Union) which is normally very good on climate change, is busy with its own internal problems.”

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer had expressed the hope that the Poznan summit would be able to operationalise the Adaptation Fund, which is meant to help the least developed countries cope with climate change effects. NGOs were now afraid that even that may get pushed back to March 2009.

The fund has only $30 million at the moment, though it is expected to have $500 million by 2012. The UNDP estimated last year that developing countries would need $86 billion a year till 2015 to cope with the ill effects of climate change. The fight now is over a miniscule percentage of the money required.

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at joydeep.g@ians.in)

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