Saturday, 14 June 2008

Rich countries offered little in Bonn climate talks

The second of eight planned UN meetings to strike an urgent new deal in 2009 to tackle climate change ended in Bonn today with little to show. "No-one expected miracles but ending two weeks of talks with so little progress will be difficult to explain to poor people who are already being hit by climate change. This was an under-whelming contribution to tackling what the UN describes as the biggest challenge facing humanity," said Oxfam's climate change adviser Antonio Hill.

The meeting heard that accumulated climate change funding, since the UN Climate Convention (UNFCCC) was signed, amounts to around $3.6bn in total. By comparison, the UNFCCC estimates that up to $67bn per year will be needed for adaptation by 2030, and Oxfam estimates that it will cost at least $50bn a year - more if global emissions do not peak by 2015 and drop steeply thereafter. Hill said: "Rich countries showed almost zero leadership in Bonn. The EU sat in silence as developing and other countries called for a new approach to deliver the money and technology required to help poor countries adapt to climate change and ensure a low-carbon, zero-poverty future.

"There is a big gap between developing countries, who want cuts and funding shared equitably between rich and poor nations and rich countries such as the US, Canada and Japan, who continue to downplay the scale of need. Climate change is the background spectre to the current global crises in oil prices, energy access, food security and the biofuels fiasco. The poor are being hit first and hardest but no one is untouched. The next UNFCCC meeting in Accra in August must show more progress than this. The EU especially must both respond to proposals already tabled and propose new ones or risk losing its vital leadership role."

Meanwhile, last week's announcement by Japan of 60-80% cuts by 2050 remains clouded in uncertainty. Japan's emissions are approximately 15% above its 1990 levels and growing, while under the Kyoto Protocol it pledged to reduce to 6% below 1990. Unless it starts reducing its overall emissions now, and achieves cuts of at least 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020, Prime Minister Fukuda's vision for 2050 will be dashed within a year.

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