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China talks must focus on the climate finance winnables, says Oxfam

By Oxfam

Tianjin, China - As the United Nations Climate Change Conference gets underway in Tianjin (4-9 October), international relief and development organization Oxfam called on governments to make establishing a climate fund that delivers for the world’s poorest people its number one priority.

“There is still a lot to play for in Cancun,” said Kelly Dent, Senior Climate Change Advisor for Oxfam, in Tianjin, referring to the upcoming UN climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico in December. “Establishing a climate fund that helps the world’s poorest men and women adapt to a changing climate will save lives and could help salvage hopes for a global deal.”

World leaders promised in Copenhagen to establish a new climate fund to help poor countries tackle climate change.  Climate finance is one of a handful of issues where concrete progress is possible by Cancun. Getting an agreement on financing will help rebuild trust in the talks and pave the way to the fair ambitious and binding deal, which is still urgently needed.

Reaching agreement on a new Fund at Cancun is entirely possible, but it is crucial that developed countries in particular do not hold it hostage to decisions in other areas of the negotiations. Moreover, it is urgently needed and a necessary part of any global agreement, treating the new Fund as a bargaining chip will only deliver deadlock.

“Negotiators in Tianjin don’t need to go far to see what climate change is doing to the lives of the world’s poorest people. Millions of poor Chinese are already struggling to feed their families because of increasingly unpredictable weather. And there are millions more like them across the world and they need help to adapt,” added Dent.

China is home to 20% of the world’s poor people and is one of the countries most at risk from a changing climate. According to the Beijing Climate Center extreme weather events have increased in recent years. Earlier this year, almost 20 million people in south-west China were left without adequate water supplies as a result of the worst drought in a century. In June, 800,000 people were displaced and an estimated 1.24 million acres of farmland was affected after torrential rain led to the worst floods in a decade.

The Tianjin Climate Change Conference marks the first time a Chinese city hosts a UN international meeting on the subject of climate change and the last week of negotiations before Ministers gather for a Climate Summit in Cancun, Mexico in December.

As a major emerging economy China is responsible for a growing share of global emissions but is also the world’s biggest investor in green growth:

• China is the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide but its per capita emissions are less than a quarter those of the US

• China accounts for nearly three-quarters of the net global growth in energy consumption but was the largest investor in green energy in 2009. The Chinese government dedicated one-third of its economic stimulus package (US $221 billion) to infrastructure that will promote energy efficiency, making it the largest green stimulus package in the world.

Oxfam is calling on world leaders to establish a new $100 billion Climate Fund in Mexico and for funds to start flowing by 2013. They must also ensure the fund gets money to the poor and vulnerable communities that need help adapting to a changing climate.
Cancun must also outline a process for deciding how the $100 billion in climate finance should be raised. A significant proportion of this money should come from innovative sources.  Charges on pollution from the global shipping and aviation industries or a financial transaction tax on the banking sector will raise billions without putting the squeeze on tax payers.

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