The unwanted equation: poverty vs climate change

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The proposed Copenhagen climate treaty has plenty of jargon – "mitigation" and "adaptation" are two examples already given. But the key word may yet turn out to be "additionality".

Additionality means that finance provided to help developing countries deal with climate change is entirely on top of the aid sums they receive from the rich West to help them with their development – with agriculture, poverty relief, health and education. They fear that, without this guarantee, when the rich states have to start providing huge sums of climate finance under the treaty, they will simply divert their aid flows, and that money that once went to schools and hospitals will be switched, for example, to windfarms. But although additionality is hinted at in the EU proposals, it is not guaranteed – which could be a deal-breaker in December.

"Even the poorest countries are aware that if the money is coming from future aid commitments, it's forcing them to choose between building flood defences and sea walls, and building schools and hospitals," said Oxfam's Robert Bailey. "And that's not a trade-off that's going to be acceptable.

"Why should they sign a deal that gives with one hand and takes away with another? If there's no new money, there'll be no deal," Mr Bailey said.

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