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Rich countries risk wrecking climate deal

Rich countries risk wrecking vitally important international talks on a climate agreement, Christian Aid warns today at the close of the latest UN negotiations in Bonn.

They have failed to commit to dramatic curbs in their greenhouse emissions, or recognise the scale of funding poor countries urgently need to cope with the impacts of global warming.

There are now just six months to go until the critical UN summit in Copenhagen, at which a new climate deal must be agreed to come into force when the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol ends.

During the Bonn talks, it was clear that rich countries plan to continue polluting at levels that will make dangerous climate change inevitable.

This was highlighted by Japan’s announcement of a target to cut its emissions from 1990 levels by only 8 per cent by 2020. That is a mere 2 per cent more than Japan’s existing target under the Kyoto protocol and is entirely inadequate.

‘Developed countries have been unable to agree on any overall target for their cuts, let alone one which will hold the global temperature rise below 2oC – the point at which scientists predict climate catastrophe,’ says Nelson Muffuh, Christian Aid’s senior climate advocate. ‘They are wrecking the negotiations that are supposed to secure a deal by December.’

Mithika Mwenda from Kenya, Coordinator of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, says rich countries’ proposed emissions cuts are even weaker than those required by the existing Kyoto Protocol.

‘I’d rather see my country refuse an agreement with such low ambition,’ says Mr Mwenda,  ‘Rich countries’ political will to make up for their historic responsibility and to safeguard poor people’s lives, dignity and development is just not there. Things have to change dramatically.’

The lack of trust has worsened as rich countries drag their feet and demand more action from the developing world.

Developing countries are rightly worried about efforts to change the terms of the negotiations and shift the burden of dealing with climate change onto them. Their concerns are deepened by rich countries’ failure to deliver on previous emissions and finance commitments.

Developing countries are demanding that rich nations admit their responsibility for causing climate change, through a century and a half of industrialisation.

Pollution from rich countries is already having devastating effects in developing countries, through droughts, floods and tropical storms. But during the negotiations, rich countries including the European Union have refused to accept their responsibility for such damage.

Mr Muffuh adds: ‘Without real progress on commitments by the rich world, the negotiations will collapse. Developed countries should prevent further delays by immediately committing to urgent, deep emissions cuts.

‘They must come back to the next round of talks willing to act and to agree to ambitious, quantified financial support for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries, as well as technology transfer.

‘Such action is neither an act of charity nor a punishment against rich countries. Rather, it is compensation for the damage they have done.’

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For more information and to arrange interviews, contact:

Florence Mutesasira in Dublin – 01 611 0801 or 086 160 9405

Adrian Horsman in Belfast – 028 9038 1204 or 077 1076 4093

Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the life they deserve.

Christian Aid is a member of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition. 11 million strong, we are the committed supporters, campaigners, hearts, minds and voices of over 100 organisations.