NGO demands climate compensation for developing world

Rich countries should be made to pay for the impact their residents' lavish lifestyles are having on the people an environment of the developing world, according to Friends of the Earth's European wing.

The influential campaign group is part of a coalition of NGOs and think tanks to have published a report Up in Smoke? Latin America and the Caribbean this week looking at social and economic impact of climate change on the region.

It concludes that the EU must step up its efforts to limit carbon emissions and in the meantime pick up the bill for adaptation to climate change and disaster relief in developing countries.

The report adds to the growing body of evidence showing that weather patterns are becoming less predictable and more extreme.

Climate change is expected to cause drought in the Amazon, floods in Haiti, vanishing glaciers in Colombia, extreme cold in the Andes and hurricanes in southern Brazil, Central America and the Caribbean.

These countries do receive some help from those nations most responsible for the crisis, but FoE argues it is far too little.

The EU has made less than ¬300 million per year available to help developing countries address and adapt to climate change whereas the Red Cross estimates the annual costs of climate-related disasters in poor countries over the next 20 years will be ¬300-¬500 billion – 1,000 times more in the most optimistic scenario.

The report also points out that the whole of Latin America has contributed only 4% of energy related global emissions over the past 50 years, whereas the European Union accounts for 22%.

As well as laying the blame for climate change – and responsibility to pay for it – at the feet of the industrialised world, the report calls for immediate action in a number of specific areas.

First and most obvious is the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but on top of this it says there should be more action to stop illegal logging and government-sanctioned deforestation in South America and more emphasis on sustainable development with priority given to energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

On top of this should be increased financial support for small-scale agriculture and, perhaps most interestingly, new standards should be applied for the private sector.

The report says it is vital for the international companies involved in sectors such as energy, logging, mining, water and the construction of infrastructure to take on board that development in the region needs to meet sustainability criteria.

Jan Kowalzig, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: “The poorest of the poor are hit first and hardest by the impacts of climate change, although they had little or no role in causing the crisis.

“Climate change is mostly a result of the energy-hungry lifestyles in the rich world, including the European Union. Consequently, Europe must take more serious steps to cut back its own emissions, but also it must act according to the principle that the polluter must pay and must finance adaptation measures and disaster relief in regions like in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Sam Bond

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