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UN: Poor nations need $600B for climate change

Sep 1 , 2009 - Eliane Engeler - Associated Press

Developing countries need between $500 billion and $600 billion a year from rich nations to adapt to climate change and make sure their economies grow, a U.N. report concluded Tuesday.

Poor nations need to join in the fight against climate change, but they will do so only if their economies are growing. That means getting massive help now from rich countries so poor nations can use clean energy for their new industries, according to the U.N.'s World Economic and Social Survey 2009.

If developing countries simply grow the same way industrialized countries did, this will have a "devastating" impact on the earth's climate, the 207-page report stated.

Report author Richard Kozul-Wright said he calculated that a half-trillion dollar investment is needed immediately so poor countries can switch to clean energy production that won't add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

The money will also cover switching to the low energy buildings and drought-resistant crops needed to withstand climate changes already coming from previous carbon emissions, the report said.

"Developing countries can't be left alone to do it by themselves," said Kozul-Wright, calling the estimated $21 billion in development aid currently spent on climate change every year "woefully inadequate."

His estimate of $500 billion to $600 billion annually would be around 1 percent of the world's GDP per year and would allow them to switch to economies with low carbon emissions while maintaining growth, said Kozul-Wright.

He told The Associated Press that other economists have previously proposed an investment in that range but said it would be needed in several decades whereas he is convinced the massive investment should be made in the next three to five years.

Then developing countries will later be able to pay for adapting to climate change, he added.

Rich countries have promised such aid in the past but delivered much less, the report said.

"Scientists tell you that we can no longer afford ad hoc, incremental responses to the challenge," said Kozul-Wright.