Developing Countries Want Assistance Offer Included in Climate Report

May 3, 2007

Developing countries are demanding that a key climate report being negotiated this week in the Thai capital recognize a troubling reality: they will be hit worse by a warming world and need plenty of help to deal with it.

The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the United Nations network of 2,000 scientists – is being debated in secret this week by delegates from more than 120 governments. A final version is expected by Friday.

The report calls for the world to embrace a basket of technological options – including investing in energy efficiency, shifting away from coal and reforming agriculture – to keep the temperature rise to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) and avert the worst impacts of climate change.

But as they listen to the discussion, countries from Africa, Asia and some island nations want the report to acknowledge that many of them – save the biggest polluters such as China and India – contribute little to global warming but are suffering disproportionately from its effects.

“Africa is a victim of climate change. It is not contributing to CO2 emissions,” said Younis Al-Fenadi, the lone delegate from Libya. “The final report should include promises of assistance to Africa, money for training, planning and education.”

Others say the report should reflect that poorer countries have the right to develop economically but also need help in shifting away from coal and other fossil fuels to cleaner-burning energy such as wind, solar or hydropower.

“We need cleaner technologies transferred to developing countries because we don’t have the funds to develop those technologies,” said Sri Lankan delegate Lalith Chandrapala, adding that his country has been hit by increased flooding and droughts in recent years.

Orvin Paige, a delegate from the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda, said he wants to hear more about how island nations like his can cope with the rising number of hurricanes and other violent storms. “I would really like the discussions to turn to what can we expect, what are the real hazards, what are the implications,” Paige said. “I hope we can hear about what assistance we can get that would help us.”

Two previous IPCC reports this year painted a dire picture of a future in which unabated greenhouse gas emissions could drive global temperatures up as much as 6 degrees C (11 degrees F) by 2100. Even a 2 degree C rise could subject up to 2 billion people, mostly in the developing world, to water shortages by 2050 and threaten extinction for 20 percent to 30 percent of the world’s species, the IPCC said.

One of the reports concluded that global warming could increase the number of hungry in the world in 2080 by between 140 million and 1 billion by contributing to widespread droughts and flooding. Diseases such as malaria, diarrhea and dengue fever could spread as temperatures rise and weather becomes increasingly erratic, affecting the poorest of the world’s poor.

Delegates interviewed said they were optimistic that the “core messages” of the draft report would survive negotiations, noting that wording had already been reached that concludes global warming will rise dramatically without any action.

However, many delegates singled out China as an obstacle for raising scores of objections that have slowed down the talks. China, the world’s second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States, wants the report to better reflect its belief that richer countries are chiefly responsible for global warming and should take the lead in cleaning up the problem, delegates said.

It has also suggested that a proposed cap on greenhouse gas levels of 445 parts per million is too low and that achieving the target would be too expensive, according to delegates.

A member of the Chinese delegation refused to discuss the specifics of their demands, other than to say they wanted the “truth of the science” to be reflected in the final document.

The report says mitigation can be achieved at a cost of less than 3 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) over two decades – compared with current GDP growth of about 3 percent a year. China complained that the number of studies supporting that optimistic forecast is “relatively small.”

Jose Romero, a Swiss delegate, said such maneuvers over who is responsible for global warming were part of an effort to ensure the report does not limit a government’s ability to negotiate future climate change pacts. “Behind the report, some delegations have in mind the future negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol,” Romero said. “Showing who is emitting what … has somehow triggered some questions about … who is responsible for reducing emissions in the future.”

For more information consult the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change web site at:

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