Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cancun shifts to adaptation

Chris Cermak in Monsters & Critics: Citizens of Kiribati have a simple but expensive demand for a sea wall to keep their small island from vanishing into the Pacific Ocean as global warming causes a rise in sea levels round the globe. Anote Tong, the island's president, said he always gives them the same answer: 'We don't have the resources.' Protection from rising sea levels could run in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

How countries should adapt to the existing consequences of a warming planet - and who should pay for it - was one of the central questions concerning the more than 190 environment ministers meeting in Cancun this week. It is also one of the areas where there has been the most movement in an otherwise stalled global climate process. Initiatives to help countries build up their defences against warming were likely to be one of the most significant outcomes of the Cancun talks when they wrapped up late Friday or early Saturday.

The shift comes as governments are increasingly recognizing that climate change is already happening, meaning resources can no longer be directed only to stopping global greenhouse-gas emissions. Only about 10 per cent of money going into climate change projects is currently directed to adaptation, according to aid group Oxfam. The rest is used to force even developing countries lower their pollution levels, but that is beginning to change.

…World leaders last year promised 30 billion dollars in climate aid to poor countries by 2012 and made a long-term pledge to step up financing to 100 billion dollars per year by 2020, marking one of the major outcomes of an otherwise failed Copenhagen summit. The money is to be divided equally between mitigation and adaptation….

That's Kiribati's coat of arms, which looks prophetic

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