Thursday, July 10, 2008

Robbing health funding for climate -- a ghastly trade-off

IRIN: The decision by the Group of Eight (G8) countries to divert money from their Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) funds to help poor countries adapt to climate change has been slammed. The eight industrialised countries have also come under fire for failing to fix short- and medium-term targets to cut dangerous greenhouse gas emissions, which scientists say are warming up the planet.

"This [diversion of ODA funds] is terrible news - every ODA dollar diverted towards climate adaptation would mean a dollar less for health and education [programmes] in developing countries," Antonio Hill, senior policy advisor at Oxfam, the UK-based development agency, told IRIN.

The G8 countries met this week in Hokkaido, Japan, where they pledged US$6 billion as part of their ODA to new Climate Investment Funds (CIFs), which is to comprise two funds: one to help provide clean technology, the other to build adaptive capacity in poor countries. Both funds will be managed by the World Bank.

…Oxfam said the money pledged to the CIFs was a "drop in the bucket", and pointed out that Ethiopia's immediate climate adaptation needs alone would cost $800 million.

….The CIFs had drawn the disapproval of civil society ahead of the Hokkaido meeting, as money under both its funds will be provided in the form of loans, which non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Oxfam say is a violation of the Polluter Pays Principle (PPP). PPP is widely acknowledged as a general principle of international environmental law and is one of the fundamental principles of the European community's environmental policy.

….At the last UN meeting on the Protocol in December 2007, Oxfam's Hill pointed out that at least four European G8 members had agreed on the need for cuts ranging from 25 to 40 percent by 2020. But "Canada, the US and Japan are holding the world hostage on 2020 targets – and poor people are paying the price," he said.

In his novel Martin Chuzzlewit, Charles Dickens painted a scathing portrait of hypocrisy in Mr. Pecksniff, shown here in an illustration by S. Eytinge, Jr. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867

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