Poor Countries Will Face Huge Infrastructure Costs

It’s no surprise that adapting to climate change will be expensive for all nations. However, the burden on poor countries to maintain existing infrastructure will be disproportionately higher, a group of UN University economists recently stated. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) asked 19 countries to assess the cost of adapting a few sections of their economies to climate change, for example Costa Rica’s biodiversity sector. Over a period of 20 years, Namibia estimates a cost of $4 billion to reduce emissions and adapt its farming, Niger predicts $2.5 billion for farming and decreasing its dependence on firewood, and Turkmenistan estimates $7 billion to adapt its electricity and water sectors, John Vidal reports on the UK Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog.

Vidal notes that the World Resources Institute has stated, however, that the 21 developed countries have by no means reached their promised goal of $30 billion to developing countries for aid in these areas; in fact, a large percentage of the promised money is counted in preexisting aid budgets, not in addition to aid budgets. In a tribute to our participation in the Kyoto Protocol, the US has again shown its reluctance to take any international cooperative action on climate change: “The US, Japan and Canada have blocked any discussions about sources of long-term finance. All the other countries – including the EU, the G77, the small island states – want this discussion. We are very concerned about the lack of ambition,” says Mark Lute from WWF International.

The entire continent of Africa has only 171,000 km of all-weather roads (resistant to heavy rains or droughts), which is roughly the same as a country like Poland. If its nations are forced to spend billions of dollars to maintain their already substandard roads, projects for improving their infrastructure will be severely hindered. Yet the US and other developed countries, which were born from the ashes of so many coal-burning factories, are shuffling their feet about providing aid to developing countries who won’t have the same opportunities for thoughtless consumption of fossil fuels.

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