Rich leave poor to sink as climate costs set to rise says new briefing

Press release - 10 December, 2004
A new briefing by Greenpeace and nef (New Economics Foundation), shows that rich countries are already spending billions of dollars to adapt to climate change. Meanwhile poor countries, who will suffer the impacts of climate change first and worst, are being fatally short changed, as industrialised nations abdicate responsibility for a problem they are overwhelmingly responsible for creating.

'Cast Adrift', launched today at the international climate talks in Buenos Aires, indicates the rising scale of the cost of adapting to climate change. The briefing shows that developed nations are planning to spend billions to foot their own bill for climate change. By contrast, rich countries have committed to providing a paltry $0.41 billion in additional funds to help poor countries manage their emissions and adapt to climate change. To date only a fraction of this has been made available.

"The rich country hypocrisy here is staggering", said Greenpeace spokesperson Athena Ronquillo, "France alone is spending nearly twice the amount committed to developing countries to adapt its health service after just one heat wave".

"The developed world is legally and morally responsible for meeting much of the adaptation costs in poor countries as well as taking the lead in mitigating climate change. There is currently very little evidence that they are doing either", concluded Ronquillo.

Even more paradoxically, the developed world is subsidising its own heavily polluting fossil fuel industry by $73 billion a year,according to latest available estimates.

"Like confused firemen, the world's richest nations are promising to hold back the flames of global warming with one hand while pouring oil on the fire with the other. The law of the sea dictates that able ships should always respond to an SOS, but on top of double standards in domestic policy rich countries are also abandoning the rest of the world, who are being cast adrift to cope with a warming world" said Andrew Simms, nef Policy Director

The report is a stark reminder to governments at the climate talks of the millions at risk from climate change and the overwhelming costs in both human and economic terms of failing to act.

Greenpeace and nef believe that, at the very least, the funds available for adaptation and mitigation to the majority world should be substantially increased and are calling for an urgent initial assessment of the cost of adaptation using the best available predictions.

In the meantime rich countries should spend at least as much helping the poor countries to adapt to climate change as they give industry to fuel it, currently $73 billion.

Notes: See 'Cast Adrift' on: of adaptation costs:USA - The USA has roughly 20,000 km of coastline and more than 32,000km of coastal wetlands. A recent OECD paper estimated the costs of adapting to a one metre sea level rise would amount to $156 billion (3% of GNP).EU - The briefing estimates that the construction costs of protecting the part of the EU coastline that is already eroding, could range from $6 to $32 billion.Tanzania - Compared to the $0.41 billion resource pledge for all countries, the US Global Change Resource Centre estimates that protecting the populated coastline of Tanzania alone a one-metre sea level rise would cost $14.6 billion. nef is a London based independent think-and-do tank that promotes new economic models for social and environmental well being . It won Think Tank of the Year in the UK for 2002-03.Greenpeace is an international environment organisation with more than 3 million supporters worldwide and with offices and programmes in more than 40 countries.The Tenth Session of the Conference of the Parties will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 6 to 17 December 2004 at the "La Rural" exhibition centre. COP 10 will mark the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Framework Convention on Climate Change.