Message from poor countries to the polluters: Help us deal with the damage you’ve caused

04/11/2009 17:22

International negotiators are meeting in Barcelona this week for the last time before the crucial Copenhagen climate change conference in December. The amount of funding that industrialised countries will provide to deal with the crisis they have caused remains a fundamental sticking point. A deal in Copenhagen will not be possible without an equitable approach to financing for adaptation.

New Zealand has indicated they accept the evidence that more funding is needed, and that it should be additional to existing aid commitments. But with only two negotiating days left before Copenhagen, New Zealand and most other rich nations have still not announced how much money they will commit.

International agency Oxfam says that upwards of US$150 billion a year of new public finance must be put on the table by wealthy countries to help poor countries cope with the devastating impacts of climate change and reduce their emissions. According to Oxfam’s calculations, New Zealand’s fair share of that funding is on the order of NZ$800 million per year.

“Over the past three years, there has been growing consensus on the scale of funding necessary. It is time for New Zealand to put its cards on the table and contribute to achieving the agreement in Copenhagen that is so urgently needed,” said Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand, Barry Coates. “Without the money needed to protect themselves from climate change and adapt to it, poor countries can’t be expected to accept a deal in Copenhagen. New Zealand can no longer push the rhetoric that it supports a fair climate agreement without backing it up with a sound offer,” he added.

Last week the European Commission indicated that the EU’s fair share of climate finance would be up to US$22 billion per year. At best this is less than half the amount that is needed. Oxfam is calling on the US, New Zealand and other countries to come to the negotiations with higher offers.

“Funding is an essential part of our international obligations on climate change. It is essential to achieve a FAB deal in Copenhagen – one that is Fair, Ambitious and Binding. Anything less risks failure at the global level.

“In just over a month we have the best chance for a multilateral agreement on climate change. To fail would risk dangerous consequences for us all,” said Coates.

Today Oxfam releases a new report documenting how Bolivia will be battered on five fronts by climate change.

The report, ‘Climate Change, Adaptation and Poverty in Bolivia’, shows how glacial retreat, natural disasters, disease, forest fires, and erratic weather patterns could devastate a country which has done little to cause the climate crisis.

It also shows how Bolivian communities are fighting to adapt to a changing climate despite a lack of international support. For example, poor communities in Beni are reviving an ancient practice of building raised fields called camellones to protect crops from flooding. Rich countries have yet to commit anywhere near the new money which poor countries need to develop projects like this.

“This report underlines what is at stake at international climate talks this week. Poor people across Bolivia cannot afford for our political leaders to remain so complacent,” said Coates. “It is scandalous that the world’s richest and most polluting countries continue to resist doing what’s needed, and within their power, to tackle the climate crisis. If there is political will in Wellington, there could be real progress in Barcelona,” he added.