Bang it on the table, Gordon!

Bang it on the table, Gordon!

The Guardian has it that the EU is once again stalling on adaptation finance being additional to aid (see previous Climatico posts on this issue here and here). Someone has forwarded them “confidential papers” where key lines of negotiating text have been removed. Apparently it says, “Cannot accept reference to ‘additional to’, and ‘separate from’ ODA [official development assistance] targets.”

This has of course brought howls of complaint from the development NGOs, who argue, rightly in my opinion, that adaptation finance is a justice issue. Climate change was mostly caused by rich countries, the argument goes, and so any costs that poor countries incur in adapting to it should be financed by rich countries. Meles Zenawi (Ethiopia’s PM) puts it best, saying,

“[Climate change] has created a more hostile environment for development. No amount of money will undo the damage done. But adequate investment in mitigating the damage could partly resolve the problem. … Developed countries are thus morally obliged to pay partial compensation to poor and vulnerable countries and regions to cover part of the cost of the investments needed to adapt to climate change.”

Aid has completely different objectives (as well as different political economy questions around it), and should be protected from mission creep. Developing countries have consistently argued that a fair deal on finance is necessary for them to accept anything on the table at Copenhagen. If they are to get no additional funds, they might walk, and rightly so.

International Development is one of the few areas in which Gordon Brown still claims moral authority. He has banged his “big clunking fist” on the table before, to prevent rich country backsliding on development assistance – let’s hope he does it again. What he proposed last year is the least worst option – it acknowleges that adaptation and development do cross over to an extent, and therefore promises that 90% of adaptation finance from the UK will be additional to ODA. Along with the £10bn global fund he annoucned on Friday, this provides a useful framework for the EU.

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