Billion-dollar pledge to help poor nations - what it really means

At the United Nations Copenhagen Climate Change Conference 2009, there were detailed talks on pollution reduction commitments, preventing deforestation and transfer of clean-energy technology.

The EU and the US jointly pledged US$10 billion a year from 2010 to 2012 to help poor countries adapt to climate change provided their leaders sign up to a deal.

Very noble and generous of developed countries, isn't it?

Did you know that, of the US$10 billion pledge ...

1. All of it comes from pre-existing aid commitments, so the US$10 billion pledge is not new money. It is just diverting finance from other aid areas, of which US$2.5 billion had already been given by developed countries.
2. So far, 50 per cent of the pledge are in the form of loans, not grants.
3. So far, more than half of the pledge money is channelled via the World Bank, compared to just 1 per cent through the United Nations.

The EU and US said the costs of tackling climate change in developing countries, via mitigation and adaptation, will cost US$100 billion by 2020. This is not the same as saying rich countries will pay US$100 billion by 2020.

How the EU and US expect the $100 billion in costs to be paid:-

1. Between US$20-US$50 billion from public expenditure by governments from both rich countries and poor countries. The only countries not expected to contribute are the "Least Developed Countries".
2. An unspecified but large amount from carbon offsetting on condition that developing nations prevent deforestation (could mean a moratorium on expansion of oil palm plantations). Even if offsetting did help tackle climate change in developing countries, this is counted towards meeting rich country pollution reduction obligations, so it cannot count towards meeting their financial pledge.
3. The remaining costs will not get any international financial support. Poor countries are most likely expected to bear the costs themselves in buying clean-energy technology from developed nations.

See... technology transfer of clean energy from developed nations is not necessarily a good thing. Technologies (wind and solar) developed in temperate countries are expensive and may not work in tropical (heavy rainfall and humid) weather.

Maybe it is better for Malaysian scientists and process engineers to develop affordable and practical solutions to use palm-based biodiesel, biogas and biomass to generate renewable electricity.

Prime Minister Datuk Najib Rajak was spot on when he said "for Copenhagen to succeed there must be a clear statement that developed countries shall not take trade-related measures such as carbon tariffs and border adjustment measures against the product, services and investments of developing countries.

"Otherwise, we would have a totally unacceptable situation where developed countries give US$1 with one hand and take away US$10 with the other."

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