Monday, May 28, 2007

Rich must pay bulk of climate change bill - Oxfam

China Daily, via Reuters: Coping with the ravages of global warming will cost $50 billion a year, and the rich nations who caused most of the pollution must pay most of the bill, aid agency Oxfam said on Tuesday. The call, barely 10 days before a crucial Group of Eight (G8) summit in Germany which has climate change at its core, is likely to make already tense negotiations even tougher.

The United States, which Oxfam says must foot 44 percent of the annual $50 billion bill, is rejecting attempts by German G8 presidency Germany to set stiff targets and timetables for cutting carbon gas emissions and raising energy efficiency.

"G8 countries face two obligations as they prepare for this year's summit in Germany -- to stop harming by cutting their emissions to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius and to start helping poor countries to cope," said Oxfam researcher Kate Raworth. "Developing countries cannot and should not be expected to foot the bill for the impact of rich countries' emissions," she said, echoing the position of the developing world.

Scientists say average temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century due to carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels for power and transport, causing floods and famine and putting millions of lives at risk. The United States is the world's biggest producer of carbon emissions.


Oxfam has created a global warming adaptation financing index based on the responsibility, equity and capability of each nation. It said after the United States, Japan owed 13 percent of the bill, followed by Germany on seven percent, Britain just over five percent, Italy, France and Canada between four and five percent and Spain, Australia and Korea three percent.

Germany wants the leaders of the G8 along with India, China, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa at their summit from June 6-8 to agree to limit the temperature rise to two degrees this century and to cut emissions by 50 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.

But in a draft of the final communique to be presented to the leaders at the summit, Washington rejected these goals in decidedly undiplomatic terms. "We have tried to 'tread lightly' but there is only so far we can go given our fundamental opposition to the German position," the United States said in red ink comments at the start of a copy of the draft seen by Reuters on Friday.

"The treatment of climate change runs counter to our overall position and crosses multiple 'red lines' in terms of what we simply cannot agree to." The blunt language of the rejection sets the scene for a showdown at the summit. A source close to the negotiations described them as "very tense".

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