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DOHA, Qatar -- Apart from urgent and deep greenhouse gas emissions reductions, climate finance remains one of the most highly debated issues in the painfully slow global climate change talks here.
Poor nations said they lack the much-needed funds to address climate change through mitigation and adaptation.
“Climate change is no longer just a threat environmentally but also economically. A truly responsive climate funding is needed for developing countries to adapt to the changing climate,” said Philippine Climate Change Commission vice chair Lucille Sering.
She said the slow progress of the talks contrasts with the urgency of action needed to fight rising temperatures and the growing number and intensity of climate change-related disasters and extreme events that have visited the Philippines for the past years.
In the recently released 2013 Global Climate Risk Index, the Philippines placed fourth among 190 nations that have suffered the most impacts such as flooding and storms over the past 20 years.
In 2011 alone, the country ranked fifth among countries worst hit by extreme weather events.
In 2009, rich countries agreed to raise a climate fund and pledged US$30 billion in fast-start financing over a three-year period ending this year.
They also pledged to ramp up the long-term green climate fund of about US$100 billion by 2020, which is meant to help the poorest countries adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change.
But an assessment by the International Institute for Environment and Development shows that climate finance pledges have been lagging and that, in the May 2012 report of the United Nations, only $23.6 billion of the $30 billion promised had been committed.
It said the European Union, United States, Canada and New Zealand have indicated they will make additional fast-start contributions by the end of the period.
“One of the key stipulations of the fast-start finance was to strike a balance between adaptation and mitigation funding. So far, this has not been achieved,” the IIED report said.
Another report, from the Oxfam, suggested that developing nations were deprived of $30 billion by rich countries that had committed to transfer the funds between 2010 and 2012.
It found that the new money is merely one-third of the total amount and only 24 percent of this is in addition to the existing commitments of aid.
The report said developed nations spent just 21 percent of this amount on adaptation.
Developed nations need to make the solid financial commitments for the period 2013-2020.
As climate change has a particularly harsh effect on poor countries, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, executive director of Tebtebba and leader of the indigenous peoples at the climate talks, said they are direct victims of climate change and the world has failed to protect their rights.
“We are the most vulnerable but we even have no direct access to any climate funds. Indigenous peoples have no safeguard and response mechanism and we are directly impacted by climate change,” Tauli-Corpuz said.
At the plenary session, Commissioner Naderev Sano of the Philippines Climate Change Commission, reiterated to delegates from 194 nations that “time is running out” for an adaptation fund to assist poorer countries facing climate-related extreme events.
“It is time to scale-up the adaptation fund. Fast-start finance has to be in place. We call for sincerity, as we have funds that exist, we have funds that is innovative and responsive but unfortunately we are not realizing it yet,” Sano said.