Climate Aid…or Not?

One of the big words this week in Paris is “climate aid.” There is a big push from climate focused NGOs to convince rich countries to spend quite a fortune to help poor countries adjust to global warming. This catch-all term includes money given for global warming education, solar panels, adaptation and anything else that can be linked to global warming.

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There have already been results, too. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has taken a look at 70% of the total global development aid. They found that about one quarter of that money goes towards climate-related aid.

This week, Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull pledged to divert $1 billion of Australian development aid to climate aid. In October, Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank President pledged a one third increase in the bank’s direct climate related financing. This will bring the bank’s annual total to an estimated $29 billion by 2020. A month earlier, the Chinese President, Xi Jinping pledged to match President Obama’s pledge of $3 billion in aid to the United Nation’s Green Climate Fund. The United Kingdom is using $8.0 billion of it’s overseas aid budget for climate-related aid over the next five years. France is promising $5.6 billion annually by 2020, which is an increase from $3.4 billion today.

The goal is for all of their pledges to add up to $100 billion a year. This was decided at the Copenhagen climate summit six years ago. Even though Rachel Kyte, the World Bank vice president told the Guardian newspaper that this figure “was picked out of the air at Copenhagen.” However, this arbitrary goal has become fundamental to all. The only problem is that the climate aid money isn’t new. It is being drawn from existing aid and development funds. Public health, education and economic development are being sacrificed.

During an online survey by the United Nations, eight million people ranked what matters most to them. “Action taken on climate change” came in last place. The question that we have to ask is if this is aid or self indulgence. Green energy sources would be good to keep on a light or charge a cell phone, but they are useless for tackling the main challenge’s that the world’s poor face.

I believe that investing directly in agricultural research and better farming technologies would help the world’s poor much, much better than solar panels would. What do you think?

Climate Change and Poverty Go Hand in Hand

“Climate change hits the poorest the hardest, and our challenge now is to protect tens of millions of people from falling into extreme poverty because of a changing climate.”

– The World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim

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The changing of the world’s climate has been an important topic for the past decade. We have seen some horrific natural disasters and watched destroyed countries and cities try to recover from the results. The fact is that climate change is already preventing people from poverty.

The World Bank Group released a new report that claims there could be more than 100 million additional people in poverty by 2030. That is, unless we can rapidly develop climate-smart and emission-reduction developments. The report, “Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty” will be presented at the international climate conference later this year.

Ultimately, the report discovers that poor people are already at high risk from climate-related shocks. Like what? Think about results of crop failures from reduced rainfall, spikes in food prices after these extreme weather events and increased incidences of diseases after heat waves and floods. These tough shocks wipe out hard-won gains and lead to irreversible losses that are driving people back into poverty, especially in Africa and South Asia.

The World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim has said, “This report sends a clear message that ending poverty will not be possible unless we take strong action to reduce the threat of climate change on poor people and dramatically reduce harmful emissions.”

The report shows information proving that the poorest people are more exposed to climate-related shocks like floods, droughts and heat waves than the average population. They lose much more of their wealth when they are hit.

Of the 52 countries that could be surveyed, 85 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where poor people are more exposed to drought than the average.

One analysis of 20 developing countries showed that collecting and redistributing energy taxes would benefit poor people despite higher energy prices, with the bottom 20 percent of the population experiencing a net $13 gain for each $100 of additional tax. Well-designed emissions-reductions programs that strengthen the productivity of agriculture and protect ecosystems could benefit 20-50 million low-income households by 2030 through payments for ecosystem services.

This report was perfectly timed to gather enough attention on how the climate affects the poor before negotiators father in Paris for the international climate talks. I hope that the find to end poverty and slow down climate change can be achieved if they are addressed together. The number of people in poverty is only going to increase and their living situations are going to become worse and worse. Let’s put actions into our development work now.