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Rich nations must lead global warming battle: World Bank

Ethiopia seeks climate change answers from public
Ethiopia will conduct a nationwide canvass of opinion to enable people to submit their ideas on how to tackle climate change, state media reported on Tuesday. The Ethiopian News Agency said the Horn of Africa country's population would be consulted over two months and the results of the forum would help shape Africa's position during key talks in Copenhagen in December. "A global climate change forum will be organised for the public in various parts of the country from September 29 to November 28," ENA quoted State Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Abera Deressa as saying. The forum will aim to gather public petitions listing the specific challenges they face due to climate change and some of the solutions they propose to curb its impact on their livelihoods. "The petition will be input for the climate change conference to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark next December," the news agency said. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has championed Africa's cause in global climate change talks, demanding that billions of dollars be paid to the continent in compensation by carbon-intensive rich nations. African countries also demand that industrialised nations take measures to limit global warming to two degrees celsius and cut emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020. The December 7-18 talks in Copenhagen, under the 192-nation UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), aim to craft a post-2012 pact for curbing the heat-trapping gases that cause global warming.

4.5 million children could die without climate aid: Oxfam
At least 4.5 million children could die if wealthy nations fail to provide more funds to help impoverished countries combat global warming, development charity Oxfam warned Wednesday. The organisation said in a report it was concerned that industrialised nations would take money out of existing funds dedicated to economic development in order to help poor countries battle climate change. "With only Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK in support of additional funds, Oxfam is concerned that December's climate negotiations in Copenhagen could fail, unless action is taken now by Heads of State," it said. World leaders will meet in Denmark in December to negotiate a new climate pact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. Funds to help the world's poorest nations develop an environmentally-friendly economy and adapt to the consequences of global warming are major issues to be negotiated in the Danish capital December 7-18. In a report titled "Beyond Aid," Oxfam warned that 75 million fewer children are likely to go to school and 8.6 million less people could have access to AIDS treatment if aid is diverted to the fight against climate change. The report was released ahead of a summit in New York on September 22 aimed at preparing for the Copenhagen meeting. "Forcing poor countries to choose between life saving drugs for the sick, schooling for their children or the means to protect themselves against climate change is an unfair burden that will only exacerbate poverty," said Barbara Stocking, chief executive of Oxfam Great Britain. "Stealing money from tomorrow's schools and hospitals to help poor people adapt to climate change is neither a moral nor effective way of rich countries paying their climate debt. Funds must be increased not diverted," she said.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Sept 15, 2009
The World Bank on Tuesday called on rich countries to step up the battle against global warming, saying their assistance is essential to help developing countries reduce their carbon footprints.

Developing countries can shift to lower-carbon paths while promoting development and reducing poverty, but this depends on financial and technical assistance from high-income countries, the World Bank said in a report released ahead of the December international conference on climate change in Copenhagen.

"The countries of the world must act now, act together and act differently on climate change," said World Bank president Robert Zoellick.

"Developing countries are disproportionately affected by climate change -- a crisis that is not of their making and for which they are the least prepared. For that reason, an equitable deal in Copenhagen is vitally important," he said.

The report, "World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change," says that advanced countries, which produced most of the greenhouse gas emissions of the past, must act quickly to reduce their carbon footprints and boost development of alternative energy sources to help tackle the problem of climate change.

If developed countries act now, a "climate-smart" world is feasible and the costs to achieve it "will be high but still manageable," the Washington-based development lender said.

"A key way to do this is by ramping up funding for mitigation in developing countries, where most future growth in emissions will occur," it said.

earlier related report
Week of meetings could make or break climate effort
Key meetings unfolding in Washington, New York and Pittsburgh in the coming week may determine whether a two-year effort to combat climate change will triumph or be written off as a flop of historic dimensions.

Negotiations under the UN flag are tasked with delivering a treaty in Copenhagen in December to curb the heat-trapping emissions that drive global warming and help poor countries most threatened by drought, flood and rising sea levels.

But for months the process has been deadlocked by rifts between rich and developing countries over how to divvy up the task of slashing greenhouse gases and who should pay for it.

The more than 190 nations at the table cannot agree on the treaty's geometry or even on a procedure for drafting the text.

Pressure is mounting for a breakthrough in what has been dubbed "Climate Week," which kicks off in Washington on Thursday and Friday with a ministerial-level gathering of the world's 17 largest carbon polluters.

Next Tuesday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon will host a climate summit in New York, to be followed by a two-day G20 summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 24-25.

In the corridors, bilateral talks and haggling among blocs of nations will help shape the Copenhagen denouement.

"This is a critical moment for the climate change debate," said US Senator John Kerry, who is fighting to push ambitious domestic energy and climate legislation through the Senate.

"What happens now in September is going to lay a lot of the foundation for what is achievable in December," he told journalists by phone on Tuesday.

"The situation is a little desperate, and time is slipping through our fingers," Brazilian Environment Minister Carlos Minc told AFP in an interview.

"If we want an agreement in Copenhagen, we need to make real progress here and now."

Green groups concur.

"This is a unique opportunity to show political will and face up to global warming," said Kim Carstensen, head of the WWF's global climate initiative.

"Without new, powerful political impetus at the meetings in September, the climate negotiations could be doomed."

The major stumbling blocks are emissions and money.

Poor and emerging economies say the United States, Japan and the European Union (EU) are historically responsible for today's global warming.

Rich countries acknowledge that charge but say the problem of climate change will only be resolved if China, India and Brazil -- the big polluters of tomorrow -- take on firm, if lesser, commitments too.

Concretely, developing nations are demanding that wealthy ones commit to cutting carbon pollution by least 40 percent before 2020. An 80-strong bloc of small island states and the world's least developed nations have set the bar even higher, at 45 percent.

That is a far cry from the offers of the table, even from the EU, which has unilaterally vowed to slash emissions by 20 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels.

The US's 2020 targets remain modest by comparison: legislation wending its way through Congress would trim CO2 output by about four percent off the same 1990 benchmark.

The one silver lining is Japan, whose incoming government has leapfrogged to the head of the club of rich nations by offering to cut CO2 pollution by 25 percent, if others follow suit.

A UN panel of climate scientists have said developed nations must cut emissions by 25-to-40 percent by 2020, and by at least 80 percent by 2050, to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels.

On finance, the gap is even larger.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) calculates that, by 2020, the cost of mitigating and adapting to climate change will soar to 200 billion dollars and 100 billion dollars per year. Some estimates are even higher.

But even the modest down payment called for by the UNFCCC of 10 billion dollars has caused wealthy nations -- coping with stalled economies and concerned about the money will be managed -- to balk.

Much of the focus will be on the two biggest emitters of CO2, the United States and China, whose leaders are expected to stake out their positions at the special UN summit.

"The crucial question is this," said Kerry. "Can we forge a partnership that can act boldly enough to prevent a climate catastrophe?"

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Australia leads world in carbon emissions
Canberra, Australia (UPI) Sep 14, 2009
Australia has surpassed the United States as the world's biggest per capita producer of carbon emissions, according to a report by a risk consultancy. The study by British-based Maplecroft released last week finds that Australia tops the CO2 energy emissions index, which measures how much carbon dioxide a country spews into the atmosphere relative to its population size. Carbon emission ... read more

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