Rich Countries Set to Condemn Billions to Grim Future

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Rich Countries Set to Condemn Billions to Grim Future

Climate negotiations stuck: US becoming key obstacle on the road to Copenhagen

BANGKOK, Thailand - The rift between rich and poor countries has
intensified because rich countries have not put serious money on the
table to help poor countries adapt to the escalating impacts of climate
change and develop on a low carbon pathway, international aid agency
Oxfam said on the last day of UN climate negotiations in Bangkok.

Oxfam senior climate adviser Antonio Hill said a continued lack of
political will from rich country leaders also meant there was no
movement on the emissions reduction targets that would help safeguard
billions of the world's poorest from death and suffering.

"The millions of people facing greater floods, droughts and failed
harvest after failed harvest will be the real losers if the US, Canada,
EU, Japan and Australia continue as blockers to the UN negotiations,"
Mr. Hill said.

He said the US in particular was becoming the biggest obstacle to a fair and safe global climate deal in Copenhagen.

"The US has been silent on the scale of finance it will commit to, and
has yet to adopt an ambitious emissions reduction target by 2020,
giving negotiators none of the political clout necessary to unblock
negotiations in make-or-break areas."

He said the desire of the EU, Japan, Canada and Australia to
accommodate the US and abandon the Kyoto Protocol was an example of the
poor leadership on show by all these countries these past two weeks.

"Bangkok has been a warm-up session for negotiators who have shown
their skill in trimming text, but in political terms, when the starting
gun fired it became a race to the bottom, with rich countries weakening
existing commitments under the international framework," he said.

He said the poorest, most vulnerable countries looking ahead to
Copenhagen now face an impossible choice -- to accept an agreement that
fails to reduce the life-or-death risks they face, or to hold out for a
safe and fair deal but risk walking away from Copenhagen empty-handed.

"It is grossly unfair to force poor countries to choose between no deal
and a suicide pact," Mr Hill said.  "It's  the US that needs to make
the toughest choice in Copenhagen: does it join the rest of the world
to strengthen and build on the Kyoto model of binding targets, or
remain the odd one out?"

"It is useful that the US is prompting a debate on who does what under
a global agreement, but if it really hopes to have a constructive
dialogue with developing countries it has to up the ante first by
tabling an offer  of finance and emissions cuts commensurate with its
historic emissions and economic weight," Mr Hill said.

"The US' endorsement of a new fund for developing countries is an
encouraging step forward, although big questions remain on how it will
operate."

Mr. Hill pointed to other areas of useful progress in the areas of
agriculture, mitigation action from developing countries, and aviation
and shipping emissions over the past two weeks.  "But what we have seen
in Bangkok was a cosmetic procedure, when what was required was major
surgery," he said.

Developing countries came to Bangkok willing to negotiate. China is a
world leader in renewable energy investment, has committed to reduce
emissions in line with its economic growth path, and has offered
support to help developing countries, including small island states and
African nations, adapt to the impacts of climate change. Last week
Indonesia committed to deep cuts below business as usual.

For developing countries, another disturbing development in Bangkok has
been a hardening of rich country positions on the issue of finance:
they are now openly insisting climate finance should come from existing
aid budgets.

"Aid must be increased, not diverted," he said. "If promised aid
increases are plundered for climate purposes, it could mean that 8.6
million fewer people have access to HIV and AIDS treatment, 75 million
fewer children will be in school, and 4.5 million more children die
than would otherwise be the case," he said.

Mr. Hill said rich countries at the Bangkok talks were asking poor
countries to contribute financially to climate finance, which was not
in line with the UN climate convention.

"After eight negotiating sessions since Bali, rich countries still
refuse to contribute their fair share of the global effort required to
avert disaster," Mr. Hill said.  "The US and other developed countries
continue the charade by getting everyone together and claiming they are
ready to negotiate. However, all they keep doing is revise the
blueprint."

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Oxfam International is a confederation of 13 like-minded organizations working together and with partners and allies around the world to bring about lasting change. Oxfam works directly with communities and that seeks to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

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