Poorest need funds to combat climate change: report

UNITED NATIONS Thu May 14, 2009 6:00pm EDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Poor countries already suffering from the impact of climate change urgently need up to $2 billion to help adjust and cope, a new report submitted to the United Nations said on Thursday.

The funds are needed to help the most vulnerable countries, mostly in Africa and small island states, the Stockholm-based Commission on Climate Change and Development (CCCD) said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a meeting in New York on the CCCD report that effects such as droughts, floods, storms, forest fires and melting glaciers hit the poor most.

"Billions of people are at risk," he said. "That is why adaptation (to climate change) is a key element in the negotiations for a new climate deal."

Ban said simple community-based measures can save lives, such as early warning systems, disaster planning and improved management of crops and land.

The CCCD report calls for donors to immediately mobilize $1 billion to $2 billion. The commission said current financing mechanisms for adjusting to climate change are problematic and countries must be able to receive and distribute funds from multiple sources with a minimum of transaction costs.

Gunilla Carlsson, who chairs the CCCD and is Sweden's minister for international development cooperation, said that fighting poverty and climate change are "inseparable."

The United Nations is striving for a new climate treaty to be agreed at a conference in Copenhagen in December. A new treaty would succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which limits climate-warming greenhouse emissions and expires in 2012.

Ban said the "clock is ticking" ahead of the meeting and urged U.N. member states to agree a deal that cuts greenhouse gas emissions, promotes green development and helps the most vulnerable countries adapt to a changing climate.

"We still have much work to do to seal the deal," he said.

U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer told reporters it is essential that the Copenhagen meeting gives clarity on issues such as how much industrialized countries will reduce emissions and what major developing countries will do to limit growth of emissions.

It must also address developing countries' need for financial support to help them adjust to climate change, he said. "I do not believe developing countries will be willing to address climate change in a much more vigorous way unless there is international support," de Boer said.

De Boer said there is a strong commitment to reach an agreement in Copenhagen but added that a deal will not be easy to reach because the amount of time remaining is so limited.

The CCCD, made up of 13 international experts including Carlsson, was established by the Swedish government with the aim of looking at how countries can adapt to climate change.

(Editing by Simon Gardner)

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