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U.N. "Climate Vulnerability" List Urged To Guide Aid

Date: 24-Feb-11
Country: NORWAY
Author: Alister Doyle

U.N.
People wade through stagnant water in the outskirts of Dhaka August 4, 2009.
Photo: Reuters/Andrew Biraj

A climate "vulnerability index" to judge which developing countries are most at risk from global warming and in need of aid is among the proposals submitted to a U.N. body ahead of new climate talks in April.

The proposal is among submissions to the United Nations that also show a deep split between rich and poor countries about how to oversee billions of dollars to help developing nations adapt to impacts such as droughts, heatwaves, floods or rising seas.

Developed nations aim to raise climate aid to $100 billion a year from 2020, split between curbs on greenhouse gas emissions and aid to poor countries to adapt with measures such as extra river flood barriers or drought-resistant crops.

But no one knows how the cash, which is far short of the hopes of poor nations, will be distributed. Almost 200 nations agreed at climate talks in Mexico in December to submit initial ideas to the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat.

In a posting on Wednesday, South Korea urged creation of "a 'Vulnerability Index' based on each country's degree of exposure to the adverse impacts of climate change in order to set priorities in providing financial and technical support."

An index would "consider the degree of the impact of climate change, including the sea level rise, water resources, health and response capacity of each country, in each area in a comprehensive manner," it said.

No such U.N. rankings exist. Last year, British consultancy Maplecroft rated Bangladesh, India, Madagascar, Nepal and Mozambique as among most vulnerable to climate change impacts over the next 30 years in a ranking of 170 nations.

VOTING DISPUTE

The submissions also show that developing nations including Bolivia, Indonesia and Ghana want a planned "Adaptation Committee" to have a majority of poor nations.

Several developing nations said a two-thirds majority should decide cases where consensus is not possible, tipping influence in favor of nations in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

But developed nations generally favor a 50-50 split between donors and recipients to decide any dispute over who will control tens of billions of dollars a year.

"It should be kept lean, possibly within the range of 12-18 comprising an equal number of members from developing and developed country Parties," the European Union said.

Countries will try to start resolving the standoff at the next U.N. climate talks in Bangkok in early April.

As part of adaptation, some nations favor setting up a new insurance fund to help protect developing nations, perhaps modeled on a Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility.

Submissions of ideas following up on the Mexico talks were meant to be delivered to the United Nations by February 21 but many are arriving late. Top greenhouse gas emitters China and the United States, for instance, have not presented ideas.

Almost 200 nations in Mexico agreed a set of measures including a goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F) above pre-industrial times. All sides agree that curbs in emissions so far are insufficient to reach that goal.

(Editing by Michael Roddy)

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