18/11/2009 20:04
AUCKLAND - Recent attempts by rich countries to postpone a binding climate agreement hit the rocks at a meeting of Environment Ministers in Copenhagen yesterday, as vulnerable developing countries made clear that delay was not an option.
The two day meeting in the city, attended by New Zealand’s Tim Groser, was meant to map out what the global climate deal – due to be agreed in December – will look like. 
Denmark’s ‘two-step’ proposal – a ‘politically binding’ deal agreed at the Copenhagen climate Summit in December followed by a full legally binding treaty sometime in 2010 – has gathered momentum over the last few weeks. An increasing number of rich countries, including the US, the EU and New Zealand, are backing away from political commitments made two years ago in Bali to agree a new legally binding climate deal at Copenhagen.
Vulnerable developing countries, which are least responsible for climate change but are being hit first and hardest by its effects, are reluctant to accept another political declaration without a guarantee of action from the world’s richest countries.
Oxfam is already seeing the impacts of climate change on the livelihoods of poor men and women around the world and worse is yet to come: the agency has forecast that the number of people affected by climate related disasters each year may increase by over 50 per cent by 2015. Without urgent action from rich countries to cut their emissions, and deliver the financing needed to help poor countries adapt to a changing climate and reduce their emissions, Oxfam has warned that recent development gains will quickly stall and begin to roll back.
Oxfam is calling for a deal in Copenhagen that guarantees action in two key areas: binding emissions reduction targets for rich countries and a substantial ongoing financial package – which is additional to existing overseas aid commitments – to help poor countries reduce their emissions and adapt to a changing climate. 
Isabel Sande Frandsen, Climate Advisor for Oxfam International said:
“Vulnerable developing countries have called the bluff of Denmark and every other rich country that would prefer delay over decision. Instead of simply replacing old political commitments with new ones, rich countries need to focus on delivering the urgent actions required of them by Copenhagen – deep and binding emissions cuts and finance to help poor countries curb their emissions and adapt to climate change.”
“Rich country politicians need to remember that delay costs lives. The climate will not wait. Poor people around the world need an agreement in Copenhagen that guarantees action – not more warm words and woolly rhetoric.”