Rich countries will suffer unless they help poor

The world’s rich countries need to embark on a huge transfer of funds to developing countries in order for both groups to grow richer and reduce their carbon emissions significantly, a United Nations report urged this month.

Delaying spending on mitigating climate change in the developing world “runs the real danger of locking in dirtier investments for several more decades”, says the annual survey from the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (Undesa).

The report estimates that developed countries need immediately to transfer about 1% of world gross product (WGP), or $500-billion to $600-billion, to poor countries.

Carrying on with business as usual, or making only minor changes, could lose 20% of WGP, so doing nothing would be an expensive mistake, it argues.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says the report “makes the case for meeting both the climate challenge and the development challenge by recognising the links between the two and proceeding along low-emissions, high-growth pathways”.

The report adds, using unusually strong language, that “by any measure, the amounts currently promised for meeting the climate challenge in the near term are woefully inadequate”.

It continues: “The failure of wealthy countries to honour long-standing commitments of international support for poverty reduction and adequate transfers of resources and technology remains the single biggest obstacle to meeting the climate change challenge.”

The survey estimates that about $21-billion in official development funding is set aside to addressing climate change, mostly for fighting problems such as drought or flooding. The total amount of climate financing that is required is a large multiple of that figure, it says.

“If the international community is serious about a ‘global new deal’, it should be just as serious about committing resources on the same scale as was needed to tackle the financial crisis and defeat political extremism.”

The report challenges the thinking that the climate problem can simply be addressed by across-the-board emission cuts by all countries or by relying exclusively on market-based solutions to generate the required investments.

Its central point is that developing countries can only make a meaningful contribution to combating climate change if their economies continue to grow strongly.—.

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