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September 16, 2009

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Rich nations get climate warning

THE world's rich nations must act immediately and forcefully to cut greenhouse gas emissions or the steeply rising cost of climate change would fall disproportionately on poor countries, the World Bank said in Washington yesterday.

In a major report on the threat of climate change, the World Bank said developing countries would bear 75 to 80 percent of the costs of damage caused by climate change and rich countries, which caused the emissions in the past, should pay for them to adapt to global warming.

It said tackling climate change in developing countries need not compromise poverty-fighting measures and economic growth, but stressed funding and technical support from rich countries was essential.

The report comes ahead of a meeting in Copenhagen in December where countries hope to agree on a new global climate accord to combat man-made climate change.

"The countries of the world must act now, act together and act differently on climate change," World Bank President Robert Zoellick said.

"Developing countries are disproportionately affected by climate change - a crisis that is not of their making and for which they are the least prepared.

"For that reason, an equitable deal in Copenhagen is vitally important."

The report said developing countries could permanently lose as much as 4 to 5 percent of their gross domestic product if the Earth's temperatures increased 2 degrees Celsius as opposed to minimal losses in rich countries.

It said mitigation measures to deal with the effects of climate change in developing countries could cost about US$400 billion a year by 2030. Mitigation finance now averages about US$8 billion a year.

In addition, annual investments for measures to ward off or adapt to climate change could spiral to about US$75 billion from less than US$1 billion a year now available, the bank said in its annual World Development Report.

The World Bank said the global financial crisis should not be used as an excuse to delay action on climate change because the future climate crisis was likely to be more damaging to the world economy.

"The economic downturn may delay the business-as-usual growth in emissions by a few years, but it is unlikely to fundamentally change that path over the long term," it said.

The bank said developing nations must also do their part and keep down the overall costs of climate change by adopting policies that reduce emissions or emissions growth.


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