New round of climate change talks – will adaptation funding reach the poorest?

A new round of UN climate change negotiations got under way last Monday with the intention of reaching a new global agreement by the end of this year. During the two-week round of talks, representatives from 182 governments will try to iron out their issues before the next major annual conference (COP-16) which will be held in Cancun from 29 November – 10 December this year.

It is the first real opportunity since the climate change summit in Copenhagen for representatives from all over the world to come together. Having failed to reach a new international treaty with emission reduction commitments to substitute the Kyoto Protocol, a handful of the biggest economies agreed to the Copenhagen Accord: an agreement to curb emissions (limiting temperature rise to 2° C) and help developing countries to adapt and mitigate climate change. Expectations surrounding the summit were so high that their attempt to form an agreement without any binding emissions commitments was widely perceived as a failure.

To achieve the target of limiting temperatures rise to 2° C will require more than smart finances. It will require good intentions backed by strong actions to reduce emissions. Negotiating a path for implementing those actions that have already been agree should be the first step, but setting aside differences and restoring trust amongst nations is also crucial in order to have any chance of tackling the wider implications of climate change.

At present delegates are trying to finalise the agenda for the summit in Mexico and to define the key issues on technology transfer, emissions reductions for developing countries and the mechanisms to distribute aid. But the future of the treaty still remains uncertain.

Climate finance has been at the core of discussions this week. The developed nations (including the US, EU nations and Japan) have committed to contribute to a common pot to help developing countries move towards a greener economy and deal with the consequences of a climate change. At the Copenhagen summit developed countries promised to provide US $ 30 billion in aid to adapt and mitigate the consequences of climate change between 2010 and 2012, raising this sum to US $ 100 billion by 2020.

The difficulty and complexity of distributing and mobilising such astonishing amounts of money is at the heart of the discussions in Bonn. A large proportion of this money was to be provided by the private sector, but it is not yet clear how this investment will be secured. Once again it seems more time is being spent discussing methodological issues as opposed to forming a concrete agreement between nations to curb emissions.

The return of climate negotiations to the international stage provides an excellent opportunity to remind our politicians that climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. The consequences of climate change are disproportionately felt by the poorest and most vulnerable.  It is therefore essential for RESULTS that the money directed to adaptations will include mechanisms that reach the poor, such as microinsurance. Back in August last year we carried out a grassroots action on this issue, which led to a change in UK government policy that saw the UK delegation to the talks backing microinsurance. No news is yet available about the position of microinsurance in the current talks, but we will give an update as soon as more information is forthcoming.

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