Rich Nations' Aid Fails to Help Poor Adapt to Climate Change

rice field photo

Assistance for adaptation programs, like developing climate-resistant crops, has fallen well short of pledges. Photo: IRRI Images/Creative Commons.

We know that the emission reductions pledges under the non-binding Copenhagen Accord will fail to keep temperature rise in check and virtually doom the world's coral, but now a new report, from the International Institute for Environment and Development, shows that the $30 billion in aid pledged over the next two years isn't going where it was supposed to. Under the Accord a balance between assistance for mitigation efforts (reducing emissions) and adaptation was pledged, but only a small percentage is going for adaptation. The IIED briefing shows that just $3 billion has been formally allocated to adaptation schemes--such as building sea walls, promoting sustainable and climate-resilient farming, and the like--and there's a danger that some of this assistance may come in the form of loans, potentially further indebting nations.

IIED also notes that there is a lack of accountability on assistance, with a danger that existing developing projects, which may or may not be specific responses to climate change, will just be relabeled as climate assistance.

Dr Timmons Roberts of the AidData project highlights what can be done to make sure current plans do what they are claimed to do:

We have technology now that would allow recipient governments and civil society groups of all types to add their own information about the progress and effectiveness of every adaptation project planned and underway. By tracking funds all the way from taxpayers in developed nations to each expenditure in the developing countries, this system could create a new era in global cooperation, avoiding many of the pitfalls of past foreign aid.

On how to go forward, building on what was done in Copenhagen at this year's climate conference in Cancun, the IIED briefing says the developing nations need far more than the $15 billion already pledged.

However, "the practices established during this fast-start period set an important precedent," provided that concerns about accountability and fair delivery of funds are addressed. If this is done, "an adaptation finance regime that fulfills the hopes and expectations of developing countries could restore trust and serve as a strong basis for building consensus on a global framework to address climate change."

Read the briefing: Fast-start adaptation funding: keeping promises from Copenhagen [PDF]

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More on Global Climate Change:
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