Monday, June 04, 2007

Small, Poor Countries Hold Major Emitters Accountable For Climate Change

May 29: Oxfam America, an international non-profit organization that works to end global poverty has issued a new report saying that human-induced climate change is already causing harm to the world’s poorest people, and indicating that those people are the least responsible for emissions and least able to adapt to climatic shocks. The report, published ahead of the G-8 summit, called on G-8 countries to urgently take action to keep global warming below 2° Celsius (3.6° Fahrenheit) and pledge to help poorest cope with the impacts. Raymond Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America said, “Poor countries should not have to pay for damage caused by the emissions of rich countries. As world leaders head to the G8 summit in Germany, they must be prepared to cut their emissions and to start helping poor countries to cope with the high costs of adaptation.”

The report, Adapting to Climate Change: What’s Needed in Poor Countries and Who Should Pay, estimates that poor countries will need around $50 billion a year to adapt to the harmful effects of climate change, a conservative estimate that will rise sharply if emissions are not cut drastically. Offenheiser said, “Rich countries must find ways to help address the harm caused to those who are least responsible for the problem. It is important to not think of this as aid in a traditional sense, but as the world’s biggest and richest polluters covering the costs forced upon those who are most vulnerable -- an entirely separate and added responsibility.”

In a related matter, representatives of Arctic communities and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) from the Caribbean, and Pacific have formed an alliance called Many Strong Voices to press for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions saying the cultures and economies of their countries and regions are the most affected by climate change. In an address, described as "passionate and forthright," supporting the establishment of the Many Strong Voices alliance, John Briceno, Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Minister of Belize said “we need action now, not tomorrow.” He urged participants to raise their voices and insist that those responsible for climate change be held accountable for their actions.

The participants, who came from 16 countries and regions, including Alaska, the Caribbean, Fiji, the Canadian Arctic and the Overseas Countries and Territories Association of the European Union, including Greenland and French Polynesia, met in Belize City to prepare a five-year action plan. The strategy includes plans to push for deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It also includes an assessment of the SIDS to adapt to climate change and a plan to inform and warn the world of the dramatic effects of climate change in their regions. Taito Nakalevu, Climate Change Officer with the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, based in Samoa said, “Together, we have identified common problems as a consequence of climate change, and our communities are suffering. We insist that those countries that are causing the problems have a responsibility to those whose lives are being affected.”

Access a release from Oxfam America (
click here). Access the complete 47-page report (click here). Access the Oxfam America website for additional information (click here). Access the Many Strong Voices website for extensive information (click here). [*Climate]