Thursday, December 06, 2012

Climate change: The rich cheat again

Back in 2009, at the Copenhagen climate change conference, rich nations agreed to contribue US$30 billion of new and additional funding to establish a Green Climate Fund to fund mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. Three years on, have they met their promises? Of course not:

Wealthy countries have not only failed to provide cash to help poor people adapt to climate change, but much of what they have agreed to give so far has come out of existing aid budgets or in the form of loans that will need to be repaid, new research by two international agencies shows.

The EU and nine countries including the US, Canada and Australia agreed at the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009 to make a downpayment of $30bn (£18.7bn) by the end of this year on the eventual $100bn that must be raised by 2020.

But separate analysis by Oxfam and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), shows only $23.6bn, or 78%, has been committed and much of that is not "new and additional" to existing aid, as was agreed.

"Just 43% has been given as grants; most of it was in loans that developing countries have to repay at varying levels of interest. In addition only 21% of funds have been earmarked to support adaptation programmes to help communities protect themselves from the effects of climate change," said Oxfam in its The climate fiscal cliff report (pdf).

In a separate report, IIED argues rich countries have collectively failed to meet their pledges. The funds, it says, are not transparent; only Japan and Norway have contributed their fair share of money; very little has gone to help countries adapt; funds are not being channelled through the UN as agreed; pledges made have been not been delivered to the poor; and the most vulnerable have not been helped first.

New Zealand is part of this problem. As the government admitted in the House today, our US$70 million contribution is neither new nor additional, but is instead coming out of the existing aid budget. Those solar power stations we're funding in Tokelau and Tonga? We're cutting other programmes to fund them.

This is not acceptable. Our governments are lying to other countries, and they are lying to us. We need to hold them accountable for those lies. Otherwise, they'll just keep on doing it.