Government pledges cash to help poor countries deal with climate change

By agency reporter
February 8, 2008

UK government plans to spend £100 million over the next five years helping poorer countries deal with the impact of global warming is a welcome acknowledgement of the "carbon debt" industrialised countries owe the developing world, says international development agency Christian Aid.

It is particularly pleased that in announcing the funding yesterday, International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander highlighted the right of poorer countries to continue to develop economically.

It warns, however, that the funding must be additional to money pledged to the developing world as aid which has yet to be delivered in full.

Christian Aid believes that it is crucial that rich countries responsible for most carbon pollution assist poorer nations already bearing the brunt of climate change through extreme climate conditions.

The money is needed to help them cope with the impact of global warming, and encourage cuts in greenhouse gas emissions without depriving them of the chance of creating jobs and better lives for their people.

Christian Aid senior climate change policy analyst Andrew Pendleton said: "The countries that have done the least to cause climate change are the ones that are suffering most from its effects."

He continued: "To keep temperature rises worldwide below 2°C and avoid widespread climate catastrophe, massive cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are needed both in industrialised countries, and the developing world."

'If richer countries are unwilling to help developing countries meet the costs involved, poorer countries will have little incentive to play their part.

"Instead, they will be able to say with a great deal of justification that they are being asked to forego future development to solve a problem not of their making," he added.

"We have to help them manage the impact of climate change while still providing jobs and an improved quality of life for their people without further adding to carbon emissions.

"Provided it is spent on building up local knowledge and expertise in countries worst affected, then it will be a welcome if relatively small contribution", said Mr Pendleton. "The money should also, in principle, be in addition to any assistance we've already promised to poor countries."

The climate change funding will be spent on researching the impact of global warming on poor and vulnerable communities, and the best ways for individuals, governments and the private sector to prepare for the future.

It is not clear at this stage how this will be done and whether institutions and organisations in the developing world will benefit.

"If this funding is about flying in expensive consultants from rich countries to tell poor people how to respond and then flying them out again taking most of their knowledge with them, it will be ineffective," said Andrew Pendleton.

A climate change centre will also be established to provide developing countries with the expertise to understand and work with the physical, social and economic impacts of climate change.

In announcing the funding, government minister Douglas Alexander said: "Climate change is a defining global social justice issue. If we fail to tackle climate change we risk condemning the world's poorest people to poverty for generations to come."

"At the same time, we must not allow the climate change debate to neglect - or even prevent - the right of developing countries to grow. Development and climate change are - and must be seen as - inextricably linked," he declared.

You can also buy Christian Aid gifts and support present aid online.

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