ASIA: Calls for Massive Financing Kick Off Climate Change Talks

  • by Ron Corben (bangkok)
  • Monday, September 28, 2009
  • Inter Press Service

Noeleen Heyzer, executive secretary for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), called for new efforts to meet the challenge of finance at the opening of the Bangkok talks.

'We were able to find the money to prevent the meltdown of our financial system. We need to find the same commitment and resources to prevent a meltdown of the planet,' Heyzer said.

The climate change conference that kicked off Sep. 28 in Bangkok is one of the final rounds of negotiations ahead of the Copenhagen summit in December, which is aimed at sealing a 'comprehensive, fair and effective deal' on climate change.

Fears over meeting the massive financial burden to stem climate change come amid a sea change in the global economy and the present recession since the Bali conference on climate change in December 2007.

Billions of dollars have been poured into the global economy over the past year to thwart the worst of the global financial crisis triggered by the collapse of major financial institutions in the United States in 2008.

The UNFCCC has estimated that the world needs to spend an additional 36 billion to 135 billion U.S. dollars each year by 2030 to address the wider impact of climate change.

In a strident address, Connie Hedagaard, the Minister on Climate and Energy in Denmark, due to host the December meeting, called on developed countries to 'urgently commit to deliver fast-track finance.'

'Fast-track finance is necessary to respond to the urgent adaptation needs identified already to kickstart mitigation actions and capacity-building activities,' she said.

The issues of financing the new paths for development and policies to adapt were described by one non-government organisation as the 'elephant in the room' during the opening session of the conference.

Over 4,000 delegates, observers and media have registered for the two weeks of talks in Bangkok, which mark a major step to the final talks in Copenhagen.

Following the Bangkok meeting, a further gathering will take place in Barcelona, Spain ahead of the final negotiations in Copenhagen.

The climate change talks in Thailand come on the heels of the powerful Group of 20’s meeting in the United States last week.

Hedagaard told delegates of her disappointment with the outcome of the talks. 'Honestly, I am disappointed with the G-20 meeting last week. It did not deliver on climate finance as expected,' she said.

Earlier this month a European Commission report had warned of the economic consequences of failing to tackle climate change. The report said that when future threats and the effects on economic growth are taken into account, the total potential loss rises to almost 20 percent of national output for some nations.

Thailand's Minister for National Resources and Environment, Suvit Khunkitti, said the needs of the developing countries should be addressed.

'Global agreement must address the needs of developing countries to adapt to the impact of climate change in order to safeguard their socio-economic growth and poverty eradication,' Suvit said.

The urgency of the Monday meeting was reinforced by the weekend reports of the devastating storm that hit the Philippines, which left at least 70 people dead and 330,000 others displaced.

Non-government agencies were quick to highlight the floods to call attention to the potential threat from more extreme weather conditions and the costs to people and communities.

'Recent floods in the Philippines should remind delegates gathering for the United Nations climate talks in Bangkok that they are discussing not only a pile of papers but a document which could decide over lives of millions of people,' said the World Wide Fund, an international organisation dedicated to the conservation of nature, in a statement released Monday.

Oxfam International, in a press statement issued on the same day, warned that the number of people affected by climate crises is projected to rise by 54 percent to 375 million over the next six years, posing a major threat to the world's capacity to respond.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, said an agreement over financing would be critical at the Copenhagen. 'The Bali action plan lays out very clearly that developing country engagement is contingent on financial support from rich nations,' he told journalists.

The longer-term needs of both emission limitations in developing countries and adaptation by communities are estimated to cost billions of dollars.

'It's really important for Copenhagen to agree to some kind of burden- sharing formula on how industrialised countries will share out those costs over time as needs increase so we don't have annual negotiations,' said de Boer.

'We need to see this as a short-term challenge to get faster money on the table in Copenhagen to deal with immediate needs, and use that to help us to understand better what the needs are going to be over the longer term, and how the cost of that is going to be divided among different countries,' he said.

© Inter Press Service (2009) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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