‘Rich countries stealing from poor for climate change aid’

By Dipankar De Sarkar, IANS
Wednesday, September 16, 2009

LONDON - More than four million children could die unless world leaders deliver additional funds to help poor countries fight climate change, a report warned Wednesday.

Rich countries must come up with additional funds for fighting climate change, rather than raid the money from existing aid promises, said the report by the international nongovernment organisation Oxfam.

But to date, less than half the money pledged to help developing countries adapt to climate change has been delivered, it said.

Funds must be increased — not diverted — to help poor countries adapt to climate change, said Jeremy Hobbs, CEO of Oxfam International.

Rich countries must not steal money from poor hospitals and schools in order to pay their climate debt to the developing world.

The warning came ahead of next weeks Climate Summit in New York Sep 22 and a G20 Summit two days later, where climate finance will be high on the agenda.

So far only Denmark, the Netherlands and Britain have pledged additional funds, Oxfam said, adding a planned climate change summit in Copenhagen in December could fail unless action is taken now.

The report, Beyond Aid, warned that at least 75 million fewer children are likely to attend school and 8.6 million fewer people could have access to HIV/AIDS treatment if aid is diverted to help poor countries tackle climate change.

World leaders must show they are not content to stand by and watch recent successes in combating poverty, such as children attending school, mothers surviving child birth and the sick receiving life saving drugs, reversed, Hobbs added.

Without at least $50 billion a year in addition to the 0.7 percent of national income rich countries have already pledged as aid, recent progress toward the Millennium Development Goals could stall and then go into reverse.

The report said that currently there is no single route for delivering money to help developing countries adapt to climate change.

A spaghetti bowl of aid channels means it is impossible to determine which governments have and have not delivered their promises. To date, less than half the money pledged for adaptation funding has been delivered, it said.

In the absence of additional adaptation funding, Oxfam is seeing people in poor countries going without food, pulling their children out of school or selling off cattle and other assets critical to their livelihoods, so that they can pay for debt caused by continuing failed crops and other climate shocks.

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