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Rich Countries Must Step out From US Shadow and Do the Right Thing for World's Poor

The world cannot wait for US to play catch-up

BARCELONA, Spain - Oxfam today warned that EU countries must cut
themselves loose from the US or risk losing a groundbreaking climate
deal that has been two years in the making. The aid agency says a fair
and safe deal can be struck in Copenhagen this year, but world leaders
cannot wait whilst the US plays catch-up.

"At the moment the US shadow is looming large over the climate
talks.  Rich countries are clearly using the US as an excuse to put
their national interests above alleviating the suffering of those
millions of people killed, bereaved, hungry or made homeless by climate
change," said Antonio Hill, Climate Advisor for Oxfam.

It is disappointing that a bloc such as the EU, who has previously
led the world in the fight against climate change and invested blood,
sweat and tears in paving the way for an unprecedented global
agreement, has now been hijacked by the domestic policies of the US,"
he added.

Oxfam's comments come at the end of the Barcelona climate talks, the
last official negotiations before the Copenhagen Climate Summit in
December. At the talks, rich countries failed to agree targets for
cutting carbon emissions or table firm commitments on climate finance.
There was no improvement on the issue of ‘aid raiding' and Oxfam's
concerns have grown that money for climate change will be taken from
schools or health centres in poor countries.

At one point during the negotiations African nations blocked talks
until there was serious discussion on the critical issue of reducing
rich country carbon emissions.  A move which clearly demonstrated that
they would not accept a weak deal that means nothing to people living
on the front line of climate change.

"This is a political struggle between rich countries' short term
commercial interests and the survival of hundreds of millions of
people. From children who swim to school, women forced to give birth
knee-deep in flood water, farmers facing crop failure year after year,
it's people that must be prioritised," said Mukta Ziaul Hoque, who
coordinates Oxfam's work in Bangladesh.

"Why would poor nations sign up to a climate deal that is all empty
promises and no substance and how are we going to get a global deal
without them?" he added.

Despite obvious set-backs, technical negotiations did advance in
some areas including: the option of raising new money from controls on
emissions from international aviation and shipping to help poor
countries cope with climate change; government pledges to reduce
deforestation; and better recognition of the need for poor countries to
decide what can help their own people adapt to climate change.

"President Obama has recognized time and again that the poorest are
being hit hardest by climate change. If ever there was time for
audacity and hope, it's now," said David Waskow, Climate Change Program
Director for Oxfam America.

Read more

Learn more: Why are we campaigning on climate change?

Take action: Join our global petition to get leaders to take decisive action on climate change at Copenhagen.

Read the story: How can poor countries adapt to a changing climate?


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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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