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Rich Nations let down the poor on Climate Change financing

Monday, 26 November 2012 By Ronald Musoke

The most detailed analysis to date of how well rich nations have kept promises to provide the poorer ones with funds to tackle climate change released Nov 26 concludes that they have collectively failed to fulfill eight substantive pledges.

Published by the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) — the study comes as countries prepare for the latest round of intergovernmental climate-change negotiations, which begin in early December in Doha, Qatar.

The wealthier nations promised in 2009 to provide developing countries with US$30 billion by the end of 2012, and said this should be “new and additional” finance balanced between support for adaptation and mitigation activities.

In addition they made pledges about transparency, governance and the need to help the most vulnerable nations first.

But so far, only US$23.6 billion of the US$30 billion promised has been committed. And only 20 per cent of the fast start finance has been allocated to projects that will help poor nations adapt to a changing climate.

Less than half of the fast start finance is in the form of grants. The rest is loans, which means poor countries must repay with interest the costs of adapting to a problem they have not caused.

And rich nations have not provided enough transparent information to prove that their contributions are really new and not just diverted from existing aid budgets.

To examine transparency in more detail, the researchers evaluated donor nations across 24 measures. On the resulting scorecard, no donor nation scored more than 67 per cent.

“Without transparency about how and when rich countries will meet their climate finance pledges, developing countries are left unable to plan to adequately address and respond to climate change,” said co-author Timmons Roberts of Brown University in the United States, whose Climate and Development Lab led the research.

On these measures, Norway has performed best, providing five times its fair share. At the other end of the scale, both Iceland and the United States contributed less than half their fair share.

The broken promises will make it harder for developing countries to take seriously what richer nations say at the UN climate change talks, which take place in Doha from 26 November to 7 December.

However, the researchers say one way to restore trust would be for rich countries to channel their climate finance through funds that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) set up as they have a governance structure with equal representation from developed and developing nations.

Also critical will be to fulfill the US$30 billion promise by the end of the calendar year, and to ensure that this money is delivered to support projects in a timely manner.

This is something that, in 2010, all rich countries agreed should be a feature of funds through which they channel their climate finance. Yet, so far, rich nations have channeled only two per cent of the climate finance through these UNFCCC funds.

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ISS-Addis,Ethiopia. Roundtable-climate change

ISS- Addis, Ethiopia.

July 25, 2012

There was a roundtable at the Institute for Security Studies on the topic of exploring just and effective sources and architecture of climate finance for Africa. It focused on the outcomes of the Conference of Parties seventeenth session (COP 17) of December 2011, and the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which is described as Africa’s big hope.

Presentations were outstanding and thoughtful. Issues raised include:

*The threats of climate change to Africa.

* How to promote a sound climate finance governance architecture in Africa.

* How to best deliver climate finance in Africa.

* Migration.

* Political and security risks.

* Conflict over resources.

* Raise climate change to a higher political priority.

* The impact of climate change on MDGs.

* Corruption.

* Financing for renewable energy.

* Need for capacity building, etc.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

 

 

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Global Warming

Global Warming: What We Don’t Know

I just read a long exchange among scientists about global warming, in which they, sometimes harshly, argued against each other from opposite sides of what seems to be a great divide. Most of us know so little about how a climate works and how it might change that we must rely on distant experts to tell us what is going on and what might happen in the future.

I was struck by the agreement among these arguing scientists that significant warming had occurred across the earth, and that it could have major effects on human life. The scientists disagreed about the past and the future: what caused the warming and how much further warming is likely?

We don’t know the answers to these questions. Each model of climate change predicts a slightly different future.

We do know that global warming has occurred. 2010 was the hottest year on record, tied with 2005. Each year since 2001 has been hotter than any year before 2001, except for 1998. Last month was the hottest March on record in the US.

A warming climate could mean the end of maple syrup production and the proliferation of tree-killing insects, just to name two of many inevitable changes. If the trend of warming continues for the next 20 years, the odds of catastrophic floods in our coastal cities rise to dangerous levels.

Some things about global warming are uncertain. But one thing is not – if we do nothing, we will face enormous problems which could have been avoided.

We don’t know exactly how humans evolved from apes. Very recently another fossil find in Africa added a new species, not yet named, to the now long list of almost humans. We do know that evolution, working incrementally over millions of years, has allowed humans to develop larger brains, which in turn permitted us to make tools, create language, and build civilizations which lower animals could never dream of.

We don’t know exactly how the many chemicals which we have synthesized and then used all over the earth affect our health. An article on WebMD says, “How much hormone is in a hamburger, and could it hurt you? The answer is, no one really knows.” But we do know that pesticides can cause cancer, as do some of the additives fed to the animals we eat. The Food and Drug Administration has known for decades that putting antibiotics into animal feed to make them put on weight can cause more resistant strains of human diseases to develop.

We know that human inventions, created to make life better, can make life worse in unpredicted ways. Asbestos, lead, and mercury were employed in a wide variety of materials in our homes, because they appeared to be useful, until scientists realized that they were also toxic to humans. Then it took years to get them out of our daily lives.

A major uncertainty today is how much the process known as fracking, the injection of chemicals under high pressure into rock to release natural gas, could harm our health. Scientists in many states have documented that fracking contaminates water supplies, causes small earthquakes, and pollutes the air. But exactly how and how much is not certain, because the studies are scattered, and the oil and gas industry vociferously denies any dangers from fracking.

Although the vast majority of scientists in every nation agree that global warming caused by human activity will continue to levels dangerous to our society, the media and some politicians in the US continue to stress uncertainty. Americans are so confused by the claims of public figures that global warming is a “hoax” that a Rasmussen poll last year showed the majority distrusted science: 40% thought it was very likely and 29% thought it was likely that scientists have falsified global warming research.

There is no evidence for such falsification, just the wishful thinking of those who don’t want to face uncomfortable reality.

Here’s one thing we do know. Science works.

Tornado prediction is an even less certain science than global warming. Yet weather scientists were able to broadcast the earliest tornado warning in years and save lives across the Midwest earlier this month. Despite the uncertainties of such forecasts, weather science was on target.

Great and powerful people have argued against accepting the basic findings of science since well before Galileo. They have always lost, after a long, tiring, and wasteful battle. Their political unwillingness to accept science squanders society’s precious time, which it needs to face the real question: what does the science mean for us?

That question is devilishly difficult to answer. It’s the main thing we don’t know.

Steve Hochstadt

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