UN looks to new sources to finance climate change combat

December 2nd, 2008 - 12:03 am ICT by IANS  

Poznan (Poland), Dec 1 (IANS) This is not the time to ask finance ministers for more money to fight climate change, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said here Monday. “But we need to find the money.” The Dec 1-12 UN climate change summit opened in this western Poland city Monday under the shadow of the global financial meltdown, with industrialised countries indicating that most previous commitments to finance developing countries so that they could combat climate change were now off the table.

As delegates from 186 countries sat down to hard-nosed bargaining and representatives from over 400 NGOs did their best to push governments along to a global compact by the end of 2009 to fight climate change, de Boer said: “The key challenge is how to find the money.”

The UNFCCC chief was clear that “developing countries cannot engage further (in combating climate change) without financial and technical support. But unless developing countries move further, industrialised countries won’t.”

Pointing out that “this is not the time to ask finance ministers for more money”, de Boer said, “We need to get public money from other sources and private sector investment.”

“Perhaps we can auction emission rights. There are some other proposals that we shall discuss. The debate on climate finance will be central here (at the Poznan summit).”

The United Nations Development Programme said in its 2007 Human Development Report that developing countries would need $86 billion more between 2007 and 2016 to adapt to climate change, a phenomenon that is already affecting farm output, leading to more frequent and more severe droughts, floods and storms, and raising the sea level.

In contrast, the US Treasury Department recently proposed a $700 billion immediate bailout package for the country’s beleaguered banks alone.

De Boer said he did expect an Adaptation Fund to be launched during the Poznan summit, but did not indicate the size of the fund.

One of the other expectations out of the Poznan summit is what is being called the “long-term shared vision” in which all countries make commitments on how much greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions they will cut by 2050.

Members of the Indian government delegation have earlier described this as an attempt by industrialised countries to shift attention away from the fact that they have not met their current commitments to reduce GHG emissions, commitments they made under the ongoing Kyoto Protocol.

Asked about this, de Boer told IANS: “Without the industrialised countries meeting their Kyoto Protocol obligations, there will be no new deal by the end of 2009 as envisaged in the Bali roadmap.”

“The credibility of industrialised countries will be in question. It is not realistic to try to shift from immediate legal obligations to long-term commitments,” he said.

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

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