Monday, 16 August 2010

Panama: the latest frontline in the fight against climate change?

Panama could soon be as famous for becoming the latest frontline in the fight against climate change as it is for its canal.

It has emerged (thanks to the excellent and vital work of NGO Minority Rights Group International) that half the 32,000-strong Kuna people are to abandon their now-uninhabitable central American homes in the wake of rising sea levels and increasingly frequent flooding and extreme weather.

The fiercely independent indigenous group is reportedly spending about £5m clearing forests for a new settlement: costs that really should be being met by the international community.

In the short term, relocation in the face of worsening climate change must be facilitated by an internationally-binding funding formula that ensures costs are met by those high-emission countries that are most to blame: principally the US, EU nations, and Australia.

Not only would this be fair, it would create a financial incentive that would focus the efforts of those richer nations with the capacity to fund emissions reductions programmes on actually doing so, perhaps using the globally just principle of 'Contraction and Convergence'.

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