International Herald Tribune
BANGKOK, Thailand: Developing countries at a U.N. conference said they won't sign a global warming pact unless industrialized nations guarantee them billions of dollars needed to adapt to the impact of climate change.
Island nations in the Caribbean and South Pacific recounted Tuesday how they are being hit by worsening floods, rising seas and cyclones linked to climate change and don't have the money to build sea walls or relocate threatened villagers.
"Adaptation is critical to our very survival," said Selwin Hart, a delegate from Barbados who was speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States. "If a deal on adaptation is not part of this agreement, we have no incentive to be part of it."
Rich countries insist they are willing to help but disagree over how to provide assistance — whether it should be voluntary aid favored by the United States or a European proposal to use the trading of pollution permits to generate funds.
The weeklong conference of representatives from 163 countries launched a 21-month process Monday aimed at concluding a new climate change agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, to rein in carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse" gases blamed for the rise in world temperatures.
Along with financing, countries are expected to wrangle over how best to reduce emissions in a new agreement.
The EU has proposed that industrialized countries slash emissions by 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The U.S., which is one of the world's top polluters, has repeatedly rejected mandatory national reduction targets of the kind agreed to under the Kyoto Protocol a decade ago.
Assistance to impoverished countries almost derailed December talks in Bali, at which world governments agreed to launch the current negotiations. Many poor nations argued that industrialized countries should take the first step in both reducing emissions and helping developing countries cope with rising temperatures.
Once that occurs, the developing countries agreed for the first time to take verifiable actions on their own to control greenhouse gases.
Only up to US$300 million (€204 million) annually will be available through a U.N. adaptation fund created in Bali, with a maximum of US$1.5 billion (€1 billion) a year projected if a climate agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol is approved.
That is much less than the nearly US$86 billion (€58 billion) the U.N. Development Program estimates is needed annually by 2015.
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