Funding the Low-Carbon Revolution

PRETORIA – The two defining challenges of our time are managing climate change and overcoming world poverty. We cannot succeed on one without succeeding on the other. With international collaboration and sound policies, we can achieve that success by launching a new era of low-carbon economic growth while adapting to the climate change that is on the way.

Financial support for developing countries will play a vital role in any integrated action. The new proposals in this week’s report by the High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, commissioned by the United Nations Secretary-General in February, can help make progress towards agreement at the UN climate-change conference in Cancun, Mexico, later this month.

The report outlines a coherent structure of policies through which, by 2020, at least $100 billion a year could be generated from public and private sources for international action on climate change. This goal is laid out in the Copenhagen Accord, which now has the agreement of 140 countries. The measures described can be scaled up if a bigger target becomes necessary.

Unmanaged climate change would so transform the planet that by the end of this century hundreds of millions of people would need to move, probably leading to severe and extended conflict. Poor countries and communities are the most vulnerable and have done the least to create the problem. Rich countries have a clear obligation to provide additional resources.