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CLIMATE CHANGE: Least Developed Countries Spell Out Demands

Joshua Kyalimpa * - IPS/TerraViva

COPENHAGEN, Dec 11 2009 (IPS) - The world’s poorest countries want two billion dollars from the developed world to replenish the Least Developed Countries Fund.

LDC delegates briefing the press. Credit:  Ana Libisch/IPS

LDC delegates briefing the press. Credit: Ana Libisch/IPS

This is one of the five top priorities put forward by LDCs at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change at a news conference Dec. 11.

Ephraim Mwepya Shitima, a delegate from Zambia, told journalists that the demands they have put forward need to be met in the Copenhagen agreement and its implementation.

The Least Developed Countries Fund was established under the 2001 Marrakech Accords and is administered by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

LDC representatives say the money has been used to support the preparation of National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPAs) for 43 of the LDCs. GEF has already requested the immediate bankrolling of the Least Developed Countries Fund. The two billion dollars demanded by LDCs is the expected cost of full implementation of the NAPAs.

Bruno Tseliso Sekoli, the chief negotiator for Lesotho, says guaranteed, long-term financing for  technology and capacity-building will be needed if least developed countries are to avoid sinking further into poverty.

“There is need for considerable additional financial and other forms of assistance for adaptation.”

Tseliso complains that while funds have been available for adaptation, it has been difficult for poor countries to access.

There are 49 countries classified as least developed, mostly in Africa and Asia. The LDCs are members of the Group of 77 and China negotiating bloc here, but have increasingly developed a distinct, shared position amongst themselves, with a contrast against far more developed bloc members like India and China.

But Adao Soares Barbosa, representing Timor Leste, says this is not a move towards leaving the bloc, but an attempt to re-inforce the G77 plus China’s position.

The “Climate Change Negotiations 2009: An LDC perspective” document calls for binding commitments from Annex I parties to sharply reduce emissions.

It argues that no matter how well adaptation is supported and implemented in LDCs, it will not be sufficient to cope with the drastic climatic changes that will occur unless drastic reductions in emissions are also achieved quickly.

“Adaptation is a complement to mitigation and not an alternative,” argues Fatou Ndeye Gaye, senior climate officer from the Gambia.

She also demands corresponding reductions from the handful of developing countries that are major polluters.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the 2000-plus scientists who assess global warming – have predicted that the least developed countries will be most affected by its disastrous effects, yet have the least capacity to cope and adapt to climate challenges.

The LDC representatives told assembled journalists that while their vulnerability is recognised and their special needs generally acknowledged by all parties to the climate change negotiation process, the decisions and responses to LDCs’ with the draft proposals for a treaty have been very weak.

More than 750 million of the world’s most vulnerable people want their voices to be heard.

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