Vulnerable states forum to press for climate funding, technology

by Megan Rowling | @meganrowling | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 11 November 2011 00:04 GMT
Countries already suffering climate impacts want help to adopt low-carbon strategies and adapt to climate change

LONDON (AlertNet) - Ministers and high-level officials from about 20 developing states will call on richer nations to provide increased funding and technological support for their efforts to tackle climate change, at the close of a meeting in Dhaka on Monday.

The second forum for countries vulnerable to climate change - coming two weeks ahead of the U.N. climate conference in South Africa - is intended to add weight to the main concerns of poorer governments in the global negotiations.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will open the Dhaka gathering, which will be attended by government representatives from parts of Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific already suffering the impacts of climate change.

A draft declaration, posted on the Bangladesh foreign affairs ministry website, says the group of vulnerable states is resolved to "demonstrate moral leadership by committing to a low-carbon development path on a voluntary basis", but their ability to do so is constrained by inadequate financial and technological support from outside their borders.

"Many vulnerable countries are prepared to take steps themselves to address climate change - for example, a number have committed themselves to go carbon-neutral - but the resources are just not available for them to put those measures in place," said Ross Mountain, director general of DARA, a humanitarian think tank that is supporting the event.

A briefing paper issued ahead of the forum notes that only 8 percent of the $30 billion in "fast start finance" promised to help poorer nations kickstart their climate change responses between 2010 and 2012 has been disbursed so far, and nearly all that money is being diverted from planned development aid increases, rather than being new funding.

In addition, the briefing points to "a complete absence of any commitments whatsoever to provide climate finance to developing countries during the years 2013 to 2020".

At the 2009 U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen, as well as pledging the fast-start funding, developed countries agreed to "mobilise" $100 billion per year by 2020. But they did not say what they would offer in climate aid in the intervening seven-year period. This ambiguity is a growing concern for vulnerable nations and could turn into a sticking point at U.N. negotiations.

CALL FOR ACTION ON EMISSIONS

The draft statement for the Dhaka forum also calls for the "immediate conclusion of a broad-based and inclusive legally binding agreement on greenhouse gas emission cuts, attaining a limiting of global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius".

It warns that any vacuum in the international framework governing emissions reductions - given that the first phase of the current mechanism, the Kyoto Protocol, expires at the end of 2012 - "could seriously endanger political and economic momentum".

A press release issued ahead of the meeting notes that vulnerable developing countries are willing to play a bigger role in limiting global warming, including through larger-scale participation in carbon markets - which many have so far had little access to - and concerted action to reduce hazardous "largely poverty-linked" non-carbon emissions, such as black carbon, methane and ozone.

No breakthrough on a new global deal to cut emissions is expected at the Durban summit, however, with diplomats and NGOs emphasising incremental progress and the improvement of existing mechanisms for monitoring and managing climate change.

Irrespective of if and when an international accord is finally crafted, countries already suffering the effects of extreme weather, such as droughts, floods and storms, and rising seas say they need better access now to the green technologies largely owned by richer nations.

According to the draft declaration for the Dhaka meeting, participating states are seeking immediate agreement to begin the transfer of technologies and relevant research they need to pursue renewable energy and green growth, and protect their water security and agricultural sectors in the face of shifting climate and weather patterns.

The statement also presses for early discussions on creating an international framework to manage climate-induced displacement, which is already a worry for low-lying island nations and countries with long coastlines such as Bangladesh.

"It's the immediacy of the effects of climate change that countries are endeavouring to get across," Mountain told AlertNet. "This is a real issue that needs to be addressed now."

A scientific report by the U.N. climate panel, the main findings of which will be issued next Friday, is expected to say that climate change has already increased the magnitude and frequency of some weather and climate extremes, and will have a worse impact in the future, making some parts of the world difficult for humans to live in. 

Nations scheduled to attend the Dhaka "Climate Vulnerable Forum" on Nov. 13-14 include Bangladesh, Bhutan, Costa Rica, East Timor, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, Madagascar, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Rwanda, Tanzania, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam.

"That a growing number of developing countries are pursuing green development, and continue to press for climate justice, is a message that should also give pause to the slowest-moving industrialised countries," wrote former Costa Rican president and DARA trustee José María Figueres in an online commentary on the forum.  

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