Speaking to EurActiv on the fringes of the World Future Council conference in Brussels, Swedish centre-right MEP Anders Wijkman (EPP-ED), a leading member of the European Parliament's climate change committee, stressed that climate change would make poverty reduction increasingly difficult to achieve.
"There is no way we can tackle climate change unless we integrate the whole dimension of development and poverty reduction," said Wijkman, noting that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change had omitted ethics and equality from the global climate change response for four years.
"We are organised in a very vertical way: we deal with climate change one day and with development and poverty reduction another, with development in one committee and climate in another. But the two are interconnected. We need a more systemic approach," said Wijkman, insisting that the Millenium Development Goals (MDG) process should be closely linked to the UNFCC talks.
Endorsed by 190 nations in 2000 to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy and environmental degradation, the MDGs are unlikely to be met by 2015, the target date for their achievement. In a recent speech, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that despite recent progress, much more remained to be done to reach the goals adopted at the turn of the millenium.
Fair access to resources
According to the Swedish centre-right MEP, poverty reduction and improved wellbeing are intrinsically linked to increased energy use and economic growth, which cannot be achieved without using cheap fossil fuels. Fair access to resources will become the dominant issue in future and is already generating mistrust between developing and developed countries, he warned.
In a booklet published by the Swedish Tällberg Foundation and co-authored by Wijkman, the MEP noted that the principle of equality must underline the post-2012 climate deal if trust is to be restablished between developing and industrialised nations and future conflict over scarce natural resources avoided.
The booklet calls for the adoption of an effort-sharing model put forward by the Greenhouse Development Rights framework (GDR), developed by the Stockholm Environment Institute, which bases individual targets on historical responsibility for climate change alongside levels of economic development and ability to pay.
People living on less than $20 a day should not be asked to contribute to the emissions reduction effort, Wijkman added.
The European Union intends to assist least-developed countries via the Global Climate Change Alliance and other appropriate instruments, in order to improve political dialogue and promote cooperation by exchanging experiences. But funding for the alliance is far from secure, warned the Swede.
In addition to a fair effort-sharing mechanism, it is widely accepted that a responsible post-Kyoto deal will require a stronger focus on adaptation to climate change. Developing countries have contributed the least to the phenomenon but will suffer the most from its consequences, which include drought, water scarcity and deforestation.
"We will not be silent on this," said Wijkman, noting that revenues from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS; see EurActiv Links Dossier) should be partly allocated to developing countries. Had developing countries started - with strong support from industrialised countries - to invest in low-carbon technology more than fifteen years ago, when the idea of a global technology fund was first raised, the outlook at the current climate negotiations would look very different, says the Tällberg booklet.
Other MEPs, like Rebecca Harms (Germany; Greens) and Vittorio Prodi (Italy; ALDE), backed Wijkman's call for a more integrated approach. "Europe cannot focus only on its energy demands: it needs to allow developing countries to get the sources they need for their development," said Harms, referring to proposed massive solar power installations in the Sahara desert, which are supposed to help the EU meet its growing energy demand via a new supergrid.
NGOs call for responsible action on adaptation
Meanwhile in Poznań, NGOs like Oxfam urged negotiators to endorse innovative market-based mechanisms to put together enough money for developing countries to adapt to the current and worsening effects of climate change. In a new report released in Poznań, entitled 'Turning Carbon into Gold', Oxfam said there were already means available, primarily linked to emissions reduction schemes, to raise tens of billions of dollars.
Such mechanisms would ensure that those countries that emit the most - and can afford to pay - would shoulder the bulk of the obligations. At least $50 billion per year is needed to fund adaptation in developing countries, while more would be required if the new climate change deal proves insufficient to keep global warming below 2°C.
African and EU leaders join forces against global warming
Africa and the EU yesterday (2 December) endorsed a joint declaration on climate change. Leaders from both continents outlined their common concerns over global warming and their common interest in an ambitious post-Kyoto international agreement.
Experts have identified Africa among the regions most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Unpredictable rainfall, lower crop yields and diminishing resources are exacerbated by widespread poverty, limited access to capital and technology, ecosystem degradation, disasters and conflicts, explained an official note attached to the declaration. The latest developments come just days after 53 African countries agreed to negotiate as a single bloc in the upcoming climate talks in Poznań.