World's poor need action on climate change, UN official tells Bali meeting

5 December 2007 – A senior United Nations official told the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali today that any delay in addressing the issue of adaptation could be called “an attack on the poor.”

“Our hope is that the meeting here will agree that more developing countries should be provided with the resources to really be able to assess properly how they are likely to be affected by the impacts of climate change,” said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Negotiators at the Conference are working to frame a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, which contains binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions but is set to expire in 2012.

Adaptation has emerged as a major issue in the talks as projections indicate that rising sea level, river flooding, droughts and a scarcity of water will affect more people. The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates that between 75 and 250 million people in Africa could be affected by increased water stress by 2020. In Asian megadeltas, such as the Ganges-Brahmaputra, large populations are at risk due to and high exposure to sea-level rise, storm surge and river flooding.

Mr. de Boer said that governments in Bali have clearly indicated that the time for concrete action on adaptation has come and that to carry out this action will require increased financial resources. These resources could come from the Kyoto Protocol's Adaptation Fund, which already generates $36 million a year, and could potentially deliver about $1.5 billion in the period 2008-2012 if projects still in the pipeline are taken into account.

“There's this quite strong feeling that a number of commitments in those areas, commitments from the past, have not been met and will be conveniently forgotten when we switch to a new agenda item called the future,” he said, voicing hope that this would change.

Overall, Mr. de Boer said progress at the Bali Conference was “looking good” as a negotiating group on ways of reaching a future climate change agreement held its first meeting in Bali. He stressed that the Conference will not finalize a post-2012 climate deal, but can “put in place a two-year process to work towards such a deal.”

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