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International agency Oxfam today warned that failure among G8 countries to provide a clear steer on climate change would leave confusion in its wake and cause an unacceptable delay as poor countries bore the biggest burden of global warming.
According to this year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, Africa is the continent most vulnerable to climate change. By 2020, yields from rain-fed agriculture in some countries could decrease by as much as 50%, exacerbating malnutrition and food insecurity, while a 3°C temperature increase could leave up to 1.8 billion more people in Africa at risk of water stress.
Antonio Hill, Oxfam’s senior advisor on climate change said: “Vulnerable people in developing countries are already suffering from the effects of man-made global warming and yet they are least responsible. They cannot wait for the G8 to deliberate endlessly on the best way to respond.
“Unless the G8 acts in a coordinated and cooperative fashion with other countries to deliver on a global goal to keep global warming below 2ºC, the lives and livelihoods of the poorest half of humanity will become untenable due to water scarcity, food insecurity, disease, and related conflict.”
Oxfam warned that a proliferation of new initiatives from G8 countries could divert energy from the existing UN process. It urged leaders to focus on setting a global target to keep global warming as far below 2ºC as possible and commit to early action to start reducing emissions in their economies by 2015.
Oxfam said that agreement on a multilateral process for achieving a framework for action beyond 2012, when the first phase of the UN’s Kyoto protocol runs out, was essential if climate change strategies were to be equitable and compatible with poverty reduction.
Hill: “The UN Climate Convention is the best hope all countries—especially developing ones—have to ensure climate adaptation and mitigation efforts support and complement on-going poverty reduction strategies.”
Oxfam also called on leaders to explain how they will meet their obligations to help poor countries to adapt to the effects of global warming, saying that those most responsible for climate change and most capable of assisting must pay their biggest price.
According to Oxfam, G8 countries owe around 80 per cent of the $50 billion or more needed each year by developing countries to adapt to climate change. The US is responsible for meeting nearly 44% of developing country adaptation costs; Japan, nearly 13%; Germany, more than 7%; the UK, more than 5%; and Italy, France, Canada, 4-5% each. This money must be additional to the existing commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas development aid.
Hill: “The G8 needs to stop harming and start helping. Scientific evidence suggests that dangerous climate change will occur within the lifetimes of present generations if no action is taken and health experts are already reporting an additional 150,000 deaths per year due to climate change. There is no time to lose.”
Oxfam welcomed US President George Bush’s acknowledgment ahead of the G8 summit of the need to act on climate change but said that the US President should join other G8 leaders and call for global talks under the UN to proceed as quickly as possible.