Billionaire Soros: Finance Gap May 'Wreck' Climate Talks
American billionaire George Soros says funds so far proposed by rich countries to help poor nations deal with climate change are not enough.
Last updated on: December 10, 2009 8:43 AM
The billionaire philanthropist Soros says the money needed to help poor countries tackle climate change should come from the International Monetary Fund, or IMF. He says rich countries should channel their financial reserves held with the IMF into developing countries' green investment projects.
The plan he outlined would more than double the amount of money on the negotiating table and ensure that poor countries aren't saddled by debt.
Soros was speaking in Copenhagen, Denmark, where representatives of 192 nations are meeting to draw up an international agreement on tackling climate change.
Finance lies at the heart of negotiations and, according to Soros, threatens to "wreck" climate talks.
David Waskow is from the non-governmental organization Oxfam. He says the funds so far proposed by rich countries to help poor nations adapt to climate change are insufficient.
"What's on the table so far is quite limited and quite short term, when it needs to be large and long term," he said.
Rich countries have proposed to pay out $10 billion a year over three years to poor countries. The World Bank projects hundreds of billions of dollars a year, in private and public money, will be needed for the climate change transition.
Waskow says the major challenges created for many poor countries by climate change, calls for long-term investment.
"Coping with these kind of impacts if you're dealing with significant affects on your agriculture or your water supplies, your infrastructure--and also trying to develop new kinds of energy approaches, for example--that's going to take long term investment," he added.
Among a host of necessary adaptations, coastal protections need to be built, crops threatened by drought need to be modified, health care needs to be stepped up, and new clean energy solutions need to put in place.
Waskow says if rich countries don't make a better financial offer, talks at Copenhagen may disintegrate.
"Developing countries have said that without real movement on those resources over the long term, there wont be a deal in fact," he said.
Soros says his plan to finance the shift with IMF funds has been well received by international governments. But he says there are challenges, including the difficulty in getting the plan approved by the United States Congress.