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Developing world seeks climate assistance

Developing world seeks climate assistance

Int’l experts seek greater commitment by the West to assist poorer nations in funding greenhouse-gas mitigation efforts.

Copenhagen, Denmark
EFFORTS to mitigate climate change in the developing world depend on vastly increased commitment to this issue by developed countries, international climate experts told a conference in Denmark on Friday.

Speaking at the Global Editors Forum in Copenhagen, a conference scheduled ahead of December’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, also to be held in the Danish capital, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan said that developing countries are already facing a host of challenging problems related to the changing climate.

Last year alone, the Ghanaian diplomat said, 20 million people worldwide were displaced by climate-related disasters, adding that he expects this number to increase in the future.

An urgent need
“The least-developed countries have contributed less than 2 percent of the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere,” Annan said. “Yet while climate change will affect us all, those in the greatest danger live in the poorest countries or small island nations, with the least resources to protect their people.”

In addition to securing funding for climate change mitigation in the developing world, delegates at the UN conference in December will discuss plans to reduce global emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and to establish cap-and-trade systems in the United States and elsewhere, experts said.

Richie Ahuja, the India progamme director for the Environmental Defence Fund, said that developing countries require a vast amount of assistance for successful mitigation efforts – estimating the figure at between US$300 billion to 500 billion per year – and that this need is urgent.
“We cannot wait longer … the longer we wait to make the turn to safety, the more it will cost us to make the turn,” he said.

Annan echoed this sentiment, urging world leaders to act on this issue when they meet in December.

“The agreement in Copenhagen must establish a fund, governed transparently, to support the mitigation and adaptation actions of developing countries,” he said, adding that the US in particular bears significant responsibility on this score.

Not a pipe dream
Tin Ponlok, project coordinator at the climate change office at Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment, is another who believes that the climatological fortunes of developing countries depend on the commitments of their developed allies. He cited infrastructure and human capacity as areas in which the Kingdom might improve its preparedness for climate change with the assistance of developed countries.

Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, told the forum that Europe is ready to help finance mitigation efforts pursued by developing countries, though he added that much of this financing ought to come from developing countries themselves, as their economies grow and international carbon markets are established.

“Green growth is not a pipe dream,” Barroso said.

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