New Internationalist

‘We need a climate change adaptation fund’

The problem of environmental degradation is bigger than many economic problems and needs as much attention from policymakers, said world-renowned economics professor Jeffrey Sachs during a recent visit to the Philippines.

He suggests that countries should pool together and create a climate change adaptation fund, which would depend on their respective carbon footprints, to reduce carbon emissions.

‘There should be a global assessment based on how much global emissions each country has and that should create an international fund to help countries adapt to climate change,’ Sachs said in an interview with this blogger on the sidelines of the 45th annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Board of Governors held earlier this month.

Many countries are, however, against this idea including the United States, which emits huge amounts of carbon.

‘Each country should contribute based on what it emits. Some powerful countries are against it but it’s the right answer,’ says Sachs, a director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

‘Every country has an emissions profile that can be measured. Consumption-based makes more sense. We can take a pragmatic approach to create the financing needed for this fund,’ he says.

More importantly, Sachs says countries should step up efforts to reduce their carbon footprints.

He believes that governments can no longer afford to separate the issue of environmental protection from economic development.

Brice Lalonde, executive coordinator of the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, better known as Rio+20, has highlighted the importance of the much-touted conference. He says that countries around the globe are expected to discuss two major issues: how to have a decent life and how to help save the planet. ‘Everybody has to do something,’ he says.

According to the UN, the Rio+20 Conference will bring together world leaders and other government and non-government leaders to exchange views and ideas and learn from each others’ experiences on how to reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection.

The conference will focus on two major themes – the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development.

Whether Rio+20 will indeed translate to a better planet for all of us is still anybody’s guess. Will countries finally agree to pool together and create a climate change fund as Sachs suggests?

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  1. #1 SiestaMama 22 May 12

    Sach's idea is good, but not novel. An adaptation fund already exists under the UN climate change regime, and it has already committed $115 million over the past two years to help developing countries adapt to climate change.

    See for yourself:

    Setting up the funds is the easy part. Convincing more of the climate-emitting rich countries to finance them is a bit more challenging... Getting countries to donate in proportion to their carbon emissions, as Sachs proposes, is not politically feasible, but maybe we'll get there one day.

  2. #2 Dr Daniel Stock 23 May 12

    We do have something of this nature that I work for in Australia... The National Climate Changed Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) (website:

  3. #3 Iris Gonzales 28 May 12

    @siestamama and @dr stock. Thank you for your comments. We have to await how it's going to be implemented.

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About the author

Iris Gonzales a New Internationalist contributor

Iris Cecilia Gonzales is a Filipino journalist and blogger. At present, she covers economic news for a Manila broadsheet, but she also writes other stories here and there. She has been blogging since 2004 on various issues including women and children and human rights. She is among the winners in the TH!NK 3 global blogging competition organized by the Netherlands-based European Journalism Centre.

You may email her at [email protected]

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