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Adequate public financing is important for ensuring the money goes to those who need it most and not just to where it will be profitable. Credits: Caritas Asia

Adequate public financing is important for ensuring the money goes to those who need it most and not just to where it will be profitable.
Credits: Caritas Asia

By Christine Campeau, Caritas Internationalis 

Financing climate adaptation in developing countries is a must. It will determine the success of the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 16th Conference of the Parties (COP 16) in Cancun, Mexico in 29 November to 10 December 2010.

There is widespread pessimism over the lack of significant progress in reaching a climate change accord since the Copenhagen meeting last December.

In an attempt to move things forward, Switzerland and Mexico co-hosted a meeting last month in Geneva to shed light on the status of the billions of climate-aid dollars pledged in Copenhagen.

Details of this meeting centred on how to raise the pledged US$100 billion in annual long-term financing for 2020.

While some view meetings such as this one as progress in the right direction, several critics complain that this is still the tip of the iceberg.

Promised climate change aid has no scientific or economic basis and is inadequate to address the scale of the climate crisis. Closer attention must be paid to sources of funding (i.e. public vs. private), how it is spent (i.e. adaptation vs. mitigation projects), and whether or not it is additional to existing overseas development assistance.

Adequate public financing is important for ensuring the money goes to those who need it most and not just to where it will be profitable.

Many developed countries want to rely on the carbon market and private finance. A process needs to be in place to re-examine the science and the needs of developing countries to ensure that adequate funding is available to those who need it most.

These funds are critically important to urgent climate adaptation actions and supporting capacity building for sustainable development in developing countries.

Securing this funding would be pivotal to rebuilding trust between poor nations and developed ones. An agreement on funding would show that governments are serious about addressing this issue and, as a result, would unlock other roadblocks in the negotiations.

Countries must reaffirm their commitment to achieving a fair, legally binding global deal. For developing countries, there is an opportunity to show leadership by stepping up to their obligations on mitigation.

In recognition of their ecological debt to the international community, industrialized nations should take the lead in making absolute reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of more than 40 percent (based on 1990 levels) by 2020. This target should be reviewed alongside the emerging science.

Governments need to come together to respond to this global challenge, assisting those who have done the least to cause the problem yet are most vulnerable to the consequences.