Friday 18 December 2009

Is giving billions to developing countries the best way to minimise climate change?

One of the sticking points at the Copenhagen climate summit is how much money the rich/developed countries will provide to the poor/developing countries to help them 'adapt' to climate change. Figures of $10b and now $100b are being thrown around, and I saw one of the representatives of the developing countries state that $400b of aid would be required, and fast. I just wonder how effectively that money will be spent by developing countries -- the track record of aid spending by third world countries has been pretty bad, with a large percentage of funds being siphoned off and promoting corruption rather than development.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this 'aid' is really a form of hush money, paid by the rich countries to the poor in order to minimise the impact of CO2 reduction on western living standards, and not the best way to actually minimise the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

And if the aid money actually ends up increasing the rate of development and improvement of living standards in the developing nations, it could actually increase the rate at which global CO2 emissions are rising, rather than reducing it.

Perhaps the money would be more effectively spent on fast-tracking research into more efficient photovoltaic cells, the ITER fusion power generation research facility, providing birth control options to those who want them in the developing countries, building more nuclear power stations to provide base power generation capacity in western countries in place of coal-fired power stations, and so on. But there seem to a great many vested interests and ulterior motives at work at the global climate change summit, and within the 'climate change movement' in general.

It will be interesting to watch how this saga develops over the next few decades, but I don't think we're heading towards a happy ending. The world of the future may end up resembling the movie 'Soylent Green' (or possibly 'Salute of the Jugger').

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1 comment:

mOOm said...

I interpret this as the developed countries coming to Copenhagen with promised cuts in emissions that are too small, especially the US which is essentially offering less for 2020 than they offered for 2010 in 1997 at Kyoto. So the developing countries said "give us more money". The hush money idea you mention. And I agree with you that it's hard to see money being used effectively in many of these countries. Maybe we should remember though that back in 1990 or so huge aid was promised to the former Soviet Bloc little or none of which eventuated... Putting money into protecting tropical forests is probably a good thing anyway and that is one of the things progress was made on at Copenhagen. Modeling shows that developing economies will likely find it more expensive as a share of GDP to control greenhouse gases than many developed economies (especially the US) and so there is a case to make for aid on this in theory.