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The Rich Shortchanging the Poor On Promises to Help Fight Climate Change

Oh, dear. Bad news coming out of London and the UN today. Turns out the world's richest nations are acting like, well, the world's richest nations-which is to say, like scrooges. The ungenerous behavior, unfortunately, has to do with helping the world's developing and poorest nations get up to speed when it comes to grappling with climate change. A blistering new report says that of the $18 billion pledged, only roughly $1 billion has been delivered.The larger concern is that this will stall the sealing of the deal on the next Kyoto, which is the goal of the upcoming climate change summit in Copenhagen. Put simply: There's no way developing and poor nations will be able to submit to the tenets of a new multinational climate-change agreement if they don't have the resources to do so.From the Guardian: "It's a scandal. The amount the developed countries have provided is peanuts. It is poisoning the UN negotiations. What [the rich countries] offer to the poorest is derisory, the equivalent of one banker's bonus. It's an insult to people who are already experiencing increasingly extreme events," said Bernarditas Muller of the Phillippines, the chief negotiator for the G77 and China group of developing countries.The scariest part, of course, is that the poorer the country, the more likely it is to be grappling with the immediate consequences of changing weather. UN says that poor countries need immediate investments of upwards of $70 billion a year to help them deal with drought, flooding, and heatwaves, "with much more needed later."Given the amount of spending we've been ponying up stateside to deal with an embarrassing host of domestic problems (the recession, the crumbling bridges, the flailing auto industry, the neverending foreclosure crisis), it's hard to imagine where we'll come up with the money to make good on the promised capital. Of course, it's even harder to imagine what happens if we don't.

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