Make Poverty Permanent

I strongly agree with one central theme from Nicholas Stern’s analysis of how to tackle Climate Change.

In his book “A Blueprint for a Safer Planet”, he argues in depth that Climate Change Adaptation strategies for countries in the Global South must be combined with those strategies to beat Poverty and encourage Development.

By using the term “Global South”, I mean mostly undeveloped countries, which just happen to be South of the Earth’s Equator. They also happen to be countries where international trade has a heavy drain on their domestic resources and commodities. One could question whether it is right to continue to draw them into the “global” economy if Sustainable Development cannot be achieved by their integration.

Globalisation can bring agricultural, economic and social diminishment to a number of countries, disproving the famous theory that you hear from high-flying Economists, that international trade brings a “trickle down” in wealth from rich countries to poor.

Countries that provide mostly raw resources and commodities to the international markets are prone to “supply chain squeeze” : their real income from trading key crops has shown times of remarkable “puncture” in the last ten years or so. They have also suffered crop failures, exacerbated by Climate Change, which lower their national income still further.

Think coffee. Think Kenya. Think Ethiopia. Think Fair Trade. :-

“As crop failures persist, scientists turn to rainmakers : By John Mbaria : Posted Monday, May 18 2009 at 00:00 : Joyce Kanario Marete is a widowed farmer. Her modest home is located in the once lush expanse of the Meru country in eastern Kenya. Falling towards the extreme end of the rain shadow of Africa’s second highest mountain, Mount Kenya, is her four-acre farm. It is all she has…The long rainy season here in the Giaki area always began in mid-March and lasted until May, while the short rains fell in October and November. “We have always expected a good harvest during the long rains and at least something to eat during the short rains season,” she says, adding that, unlike until about 20 years ago, when she could time the planting to coincide with the onset of the rains, “This is no longer possible.” Mama Kanario is among millions of farmers in Kenya who depend on rain-fed agriculture and who base their decisions on long-held traditions. But over the past few years, they have not been able to predict the rains. This seems to have confused them: Many times they have planted only for the crops to fail because the rains do not come…”

There is a danger that Climate Change could permanently lock in Poverty for some countries and regions, despite any increase in volumes of internationally traded goods and services.

“Make Poverty Permanent” seems to be the current track the world is on.

Nicholas Stern writes in “A Blueprint for a Safer Planet” :-

page 8
Chapter 1
“Why there is a problem and how we can deal with it”

The two greatest problems of our times – overcoming poverty in the developing world and combating climate change – are inextricably linked. Failure to tackle one will undermine efforts to deal with the other : ignoring climate change would result in an increasingly hostile environment for development and poverty reduction, but to try to deal with climate change by shackling growth and development would damage, probably fatally, the cooperation between developed and developing countries that is vital to success. Developing countries cannot ‘put development on hold’ while they reduce emissions and change technologies. Rich and poor countries have to work together to achieve low-carbon growth; but we can create this growth and it can be strong and sustained. And high-carbon growth will eventually destroy itself. We confuse the issues if we try to create an artificial ‘horse race’ between development and climate responsibility.”

And so it is worrying that developed countries have not responded as promised to the commitment they made to achieving the Millenium Development Goals. They were supposed to be putting in 0.7% of GDP into the pot for development, and making every effort to cancel “odious debt”.

There is the added complication of the “Credit Crunch” which is clearly impacting the Global South, even though it is a problem not of their own making :-

“World Bank calls on west to help relieve trillion dollar drain on world’s poor : Flow of money into developing world halving to $363bn in 2009 : Lack of capital means longer recessions in many poor countries : Ashley Seager : The Guardian, Monday 22 June 2009 : The world’s poorest countries will see $1tn (£600bn) drain from their economies this year according to the first detailed analysis of how the global recession is hitting developing nations. Figures published today by the World Bank show the financial crisis taking a heavy toll, with the flow of money into the developing world halving this year after heavy losses in 2008. Ashley Seager on the recession’s impact on development” :-

“Despite recent talk of economic green shoots in Britain and the US, the lack of international capital means many poor countries will stay in recession for longer as companies and governments are starved of investment. The World Bank is calling for greater international policy co-ordination and tighter regulation of the global financial system in response. Releasing its authoritative annual Global Development Finance report, the Washington-based institution singles out Africa, central and eastern Europe and Latin America as regions suffering most from the global recession even while rich nations are starting to talk about recovery…”

But can we trust the World Bank to do for Poverty ? And if we can’t trust them for getting the Global South out of Poverty, can we hope for them to be able to act for us on Climate Change ?

Meena Raman of the Third World Network, talking to Phil England of Climate Radio about the recent Bonn Climate negotations, explained that the European Union and others were showing signs of wanting to put “Adaptation” and “Technology Transfer” funds into the World Bank but not into the “Convention” – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. She explained that the Convention is “country-driven”, but the World Bank is “donor-driven” and she sees dangers in that.

She talks about the movement made on 12th June 2009, the last day of the Bonn talks, where the group known as “G77 plus China” put forward a proposal for a financial architecture, where developed countries would make public funds available of the order of 0.5% to 1.0% of GNP – money that would be used for Adaptation and Clean Energy development in the Global South. She says that the group believes that if sufficient funds are paid directly in this way, that the Carbon Trading based on the Clean Development Mechanism would not be necessary.

Here’s an early reading of that proposal from last year :-
“G77+China financing proposal (TWN, August 2008)”

Also, the G77 plus China have put forward a proposal that the Annex I (rich, developed nations of the Global North) should make real cuts in Carbon Emissions of 40% by 2020 :-

“…China highlighted a mid-term reduction goal for developed countries of 40% based on 1990 levels by 2020. He underscored that a long-term goal should be based on sound science and economic and technical feasibility, and on an equitable distribution of atmospheric space supported and enabled by adequate technology, finance and capacity building…South Africa and the Philippines proposed an aggregate scale of Annex I reductions of 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. South Africa clarified that this target does not include offsetting, only domestic actions…South Africa explained their proposed Annex I individual targets, stating that the starting point for the proposal is an aggregate reduction range by Annex I countries of 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. He said this aggregate target was then allocated among Annex I countries based on responsibility and capability. The Philippines also presented their proposal, explaining that they used a similar methodology and criteria as South Africa, with different aggregate numbers as a starting point. He explained that the numbers they used were: a 30% aggregate reduction by Annex I countries in the second commitment period 2013-2017, and a 50% aggregate reduction in the third commitment period 2018-2022…”

The webcast :-

“12 Jun 09 – 15:00 CEST : AWG-KP 8, 2nd meeting : UNFCCC : Plenary : Hall Maritim”

Here’s the Meena Raman interview :-

“The 300-350 Show: Bonn Wrap-Up”

Remember that the current offers from the Global North for Carbon emissions reductions don’t really amount to much.

And there is a real danger we have lost our chance to contain Global Warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels :-

“Halfway to Copenhagen, no way to 2 °C : Joeri Rogelj, Bill Hare, Julia Nabel, Kirsten Macey, Michiel Schaeffer, Kathleen Markmann & Malte Meinshausen : National targets give virtually no chance of constraining warming to 2 °C and no chance of protecting coral reefs.”

So, why do the Department of Energy and Climate Change negotiators think “40% is laughable” ? :-

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