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Europe

EU to Help Poor Nations Fight Global Warming

The European Commission is setting up a Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) with developing countries, which foresees integrating the tackling of climate change into poverty reduction strategies.

The earth

Global warming affects the countries least able to cope

The European Commission this week announced the creation of a fund to help developing nations battle climate change, putting in 50 million euros ($69 million) itself to kick it off.

Louis Michel, EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, proposed the global alliance to help developing nations deal with and adapt to the effects of climate change.

"We need to maintain structured dialogue on tackling the effects of climate change," he said. "And we have to prepare developing nations for future natural disasters."

With global warming affecting many sectors, the EU is keen to integrate "climate proofing" into poverty reduction efforts in order to ensure sustainability.

Increasingly frequent, increasingly deadly

Rainclouds hanging over the rain forest in Lope Reserve, Gabon.

The plan will reduce emissions from deforestation

According to the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), the number of natural disasters recorded since 1900 is on the rise, as is the number of people affected by such disasters since 1975.

From tsunamis in Asia, hurricanes in central and North America to earthquakes in Pakistan, floods in India and famine in Africa, natural disasters have become increasingly frequent and increasingly deadly in recent years. Seven of the 10 worst disasters of the last 20 years occurred between 2000 and 2006.

Moreover, the EU Commission is concerned that the effects of global warming are felt first and foremost by the poor and vulnerable in developing countries. Responsible for just a small percentage of global pollution themselves, they nonetheless feel the immediate effects of ecological degradation caused by industrialized and emerging nations.

While most affected by global warming, these countries also have the least capacity to deal with climate change.

"Developing countries will be the hardest hit by the effects of climate change and therefore need our help to mitigate climate change and to adapt to the changes already occurring," said this week's Commission statement.

Financing a high-tech battle

A Sri Lankan woman turns away from the sight of her house wrecked by a Tsunami

Alert systems can help avert the worst

The Global Climate Chance Alliance seeks to cut emissions from deforestation -- a major contributor to rising greenhouse gas levels -- and help developing countries take advantage of the global carbon market.

The commission will also fund dams and intelligent irrigation systems in order to minimize damage caused by flooding. Early warning systems for hurricanes and disaster protection program will also get financing.

Brussels expects the battle against global warming to be a high-tech one.

"New technology is only one way of developing towards a sustainable society without hampering development and quality of life," said the commission statement.

With 50 million euros already earmarked for the launch of the alliance, Michel said it could handle up to 300 million euros between 2008 and 2010.

"It's just a start," he said. "More money is clearly needed. Other resources are necessary to respond to the scale of the needs," he added, calling on EU member states to boosts the funds.

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