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Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009

Hidden climate change bill haunts developing nations

$30 billion estimate just a down payment on future funding, U.N. says

Staff writer

COPENHAGEN — After the debate over emissions reductions targets, but very much connected to it, the question of how much it will cost to mitigate environmental disasters in the poorest countries — and how much money will be needed to help them get technology and financing to adapt to worsening weather patterns — is a key element of the Copenhagen climate talks.

The U.N. wants rich nations to put up $10 billion annually between 2010 and 2012 for climate change mitigation. Japan, under the Hatoyama Initiative, has pledged more than $9 billion, according to Environment Minister Sakihito Ozawa, but the exact amount is still being discussed.

However the U.N. says $30 billion is only a down payment on future funding, and that the final cost will likely run into hundreds of billions of dollars.

The EU has proposed a global fund of about $74 billion be set up to help poor countries adjust to climate change but will not say how much it will commit to. The U.S. has said it will pay its fair share but has not committed a specific amount at Copenhagen either.

But negotiators here face growing pressure for the international community to commit to more money.

"The price of success in Copenhagen is $200 billion annually in new public funds over the coming years," said Antonio Hill, senior climate change adviser for Oxfam International. "This is peanuts compared to the $8.4 trillion used to save drowning banks."

Greenpeace is calling on the Copenhagen conference to deliver $140 billion annually by 2020 to deal with climate change and to help put a stop to deforestation. The Oxfam and Greenpeace figures are both based on studies commissioned by the U.N. and other organizations on what the true cost will be of dealing with climate change now and in the future.

Hottest decade

COPENHAGEN (AP) This decade is very likely to be the warmest since record keeping began in 1850, and 2009 could rank among the top-five warmest years, the U.N. weather agency reported Tuesday.

In some areas — parts of Africa and central Asia — this will probably be the warmest year, but overall 2009 "is likely to be about the fifth-warmest year on record," said Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization.

If 2009 ends as the fifth-warmest year, it would replace the year 2003. According to the U.S. space agency NASA, the other warmest years since 1850 have been 2005, 1998, 2007 and 2006.

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