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Show them (and us) the money!

By Kellie Tranter - posted Tuesday, 8 December 2009

While propounding a "CPR scheme" - the acronym is ironically apposite - that simultaneously fails to fit the scientific facts and fails to accept full responsibility for our disproportionately high per capita CO2 emissions and water use, it’s the height of hypocrisy for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to call for world leaders to show political courage at the climate change talks in Copenhagen.

The media seems to be playing dead on real criticism of that, but what is receiving even less media attention in Australia is the issue of finance to developing countries to help them reduce their emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Be careful of funding announcements by politicians: the same spending seems to be announced many times over under different broad headings. The foreign aid funding of $3.8 billion this financial year must be looked at closely to see exactly what goes where, and for present purposes exactly what part of it is dedicated adaptation funding.


You may (but probably don’t) recall that late last year the Rudd Government proudly announced they’d allocated $150 million to help our Pacific neighbors adapt to climate change. As far as I can work out that’s the same $150 million it pledged to the World Bank and its Climate Investment Funds, a pair of international investment instruments allegedly designed to provide interim, scaled-up funding to help developing countries in their efforts to mitigate increases in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to climate change.

Will that same $150 million be put on the table yet again at Copenhagen? Or will it be some “new” sum of a similar magnitude? Even if it’s a new spend, it will be hopelessly inadequate: according to the International Energy Agency, the total investment required to avoid dangerous climate change is more than US$1 trillion per annum, with around half of this needed for the developing world. Experts indicate that investments of around US$500 billion a year will be needed to help developing countries adapt to climate change while powering low carbon growth.

And look at the government’s announcement of funding for the following $200 million International Forest Carbon Initiative:

Most, if not all, of this expenditure seems to be directed to reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD). REDD is a set of steps designed to use market/financial incentives to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from deforestation and forest degradation. It sounds rather big of us, until you look at recent international warnings from police, politicians and conservationists that the scheme may be impossible to monitor and may already be leading to fraud.

It doesn’t stop there. Funding announcements also include:

  • $150 million from our international aid budget under the International Climate Change Adaptation Initiative to help our neighbours adapt to climate change;
  • up to $100 million per annum for a global institute to speed up development of carbon capture and storage technology;
  • $12 million to Shaping an International Solution to Climate Change;
  • $20 million Pacific Climate Change Science Program;
  • $100 million to the World Bank Clean Technology Fund;
  • $40 million to the World Bank Strategic Climate Fund to support the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience;
  • $1 million to the Trust Fund for Participation in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; and
  • $20 million for the Australia-China Joint Coordination Group on Clean Coal Technology.

Bearing in mind that we will have 9 billion mouths to feed by 2050 (which isn’t far away), world agricultural production will have to increase by two thirds, but with 10 per cent less water. Again, experts suggest that $270 billion will have to be invested just to bring water governance systems into the 21st century.

And how much has the Rudd government set aside to address the specific issue of gender and climate change? “What's gender got to do with climate change?”, the usual suspects ask? Well, the fact that it has a lot to do with it is now widely accepted. The connection was emphasised in the recent UNFPA State of the World Population 2009 report:

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About the Author

Kellie Tranter is a lawyer and human rights activist. You can follow her on Twitter @KellieTranter

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