Rich countries that have emitted the most pollution must establish a US$100 (£50) billion a year global fighting fund to enable poor, vulnerable countries to adapt to sea level rises, increased drought and more extreme weather, says Christian Aid.
‘The poorest people in the developing world emit a tiny fraction of the greenhouse gases we in rich countries are responsible for and yet they’re standing on the frontline of climate change,’ said Paul Brannen, head of Christian Aid’s Climate Changed campaign. ‘Their lives and livelihoods are already under threat due to our economic activities and it is up to us in rich to countries to compensate them for the damage done.’
Mr Brannen was commenting on the launch of the report of Working Group II of the United Nations’ Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change today (Friday 6 April). The scientists warn that some 100 million people living in coastal areas, where the majority of the world’s mega-cities are sited, could be flooded every year by 2080. Farmers, livestock herders and fishing communities will have the greatest difficulty adapting to climate change and will struggle to cope with hunger, disease and natural disasters.
In 1992, 154 countries agreed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in which the richest agreed to help developing countries meet the cost of adapting to climate change. Signatories to the Framework Convention, including the UK, the US and other G8 members, have an international legal, as well as moral, obligation to ensure money is available as the need for adaptation increases with global temperatures.
Yet most of the adaptation work currently being funded is for rich countries, even though their populations are least vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In the UK, the government is expected to spend £4 billion to protect London and the Thames Estuary from flooding. Similar safeguards are urgently needed in low income countries where poverty means people do not have the resilience to cope with disasters.
‘It is a scandal that the world’s polluters have offered only tens of millions to poor countries when tens of billions are going to be required,’ said Mr Brannen. ‘The IPCC’s report spells out clearly and starkly how poor people are going to be driven from the countryside by drought and hunger, only to risk drowning in coastal cities as sea levels rise.
‘Rich countries must lead the effort to keep global warming to less than two degrees. They must not forget that even at this level changes to the climate are likely to be profound and the poorest, most vulnerable people living near the equator will still suffer,’ said Mr Brannen.
Christian Aid is proposing that funds already established under the UNFCCC are massively expanded to $100 billion a year. This money cannot simply be channelled from existing aid budgets. Instead, the payments should be compensatory and in proportion to CO2 emissions since 1990 (when UNFCCC negotiations began) and national wealth.
‘$100 billion is beyond the imagination of most people but it is only one-fifth of what the US spends on its military. When there is a war to fight, money is never an issue. As we go into battle against the changing climate, we need to ensure that no one suffers more than necessary because finance is not available for adaptation,’ said Mr Brannen.
For interviews please contact Paul Brannen on 07878 565406 or Karen Hedges on 07850 242950
Notes to editor
1. The World Bank estimates that climate-proofing development will cost between $10 and $40 billion per year, but this is based only on projections of the cost of adapting new infrastructure to climate change.
2. The Stern Report estimates that the cost of mitigation is $450 billion a year or 1 per cent of global GDP. The cost of inaction is 20 times this.
3. Currently, there are three climate change adaptation funds: The Adaptation Fund, The Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF). The Adaptation Fund is topped up through a two per cent levy on Clean Development Mechanism transactions and is somewhat in flux due to wrangles at last year’s climate change talks over how it would be governed. The SCCF and LDCF are topped up through voluntary contributions by rich (Annex 1) countries. Currently $120 million has been pledged to the LDCF and $60 million to the SCCF. Of this, $48 million and $41 million respectively has been delivered.
4. The UK has pledged $10 million to each, although it has yet to meet this pledge to the LDCF.
5. Article 4.4 of the UNFCCC states that: ‘The developed country Parties and other developed Parties included in Annex II [those not currently required to make commitments to reduce emissions] shall also assist the developing country Parties that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting costs of adaptation to those adverse effects.’ This means that all developed countries, including the US and Australia despite their refusal to agree to cut their emissions, have made a legal commitment to help poorer countries adapt.
6. Adaptation should form an intrinsic part of any post-2012 agreement when the Kyoto Protocol expires. In future, funds should be drawn from an additional levy on carbon transactions or pollution taxes, in effect expanding manifold the Adaptation Fund.
7. Christian Aid is currently working with US-based research group EcoEquity on proposals for how adaptation and mitigation are dealt with by world leaders.
8. Christian Aid supports I Count - the campaign of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition. http://www.icount.org.uk/
Christian Aid is an international development agency working in more than 50 countries with people of many cultures, nationalities and religions, to provide aid where the need is greatest.