Developing countries “must be serious” about mainstreaming climate change issues into their national development strategies, the European Commissioner for Climate Action has said.
Speaking in the European Parliament in Brussels on 19 February, Connie Hedegaard said that climate change posed has a “significant impact on livelihoods” in the developing world, thorough the increase in natural disasters, agricultural degradation and fresh water scarcity.
She said that failure to curb the increase in the earth’s temperature will have an “irreversible, execrable effect on food security” and other serious problems facing the developing world.
“Ministers need to see the need for mainstreaming climate change into their development programmes”, she said of governments in the developing world. However, she stressed that the European Union still had a huge part to play in development co-operation, despite ongoing battles for resources.
Hedegaard said that at the moment the multi-annual financial framework (the EU’s long-term budget for 2014-2020 and currently being disputed by the council and parliament) represented a “bad compromise for climate finance”, she said that, from the commission’s point of view, “I hope and believe there will be an outcome agreeable to all institutions”.
She said that EU member states should stick to their development spending commitments, rather than use the current crisis as an excuse to cut back on spending. “There are rather dire perspectives there” she said of member state budgets, who need to aid the EU “so it can respect its commitments”.
She said that with the financial crisis shrinking financial pledges to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an option was to “look seriously at alternative finances” such as the financial transaction tax, a tax on shipping or a general ‘polluter pays’ tax on industry.
However, she said that climate financing should not be achieved “at the cost of other development priorities”.
“We should not put climate financing in competition with other forms of development aid”, she said.
She said that developing countries “see more and more the consequences of climate change, and they think about strategy in a more coherent manner, for example, through less carbon-intensive development”.
She said this can be achieved by “not doing it in a way that is counter to budget support”, and that governments should be encouraged to “finance smartly”.
“They must be serious about mainstreaming”, she said. “It is not an either/or. We must do the maximum good”.