Saturday, 27 December 2008

Climate change fight could create many jobs: aid experts

by Andrew Newby
DOHA, Nov 30, 2008 (AFP) - Aid specialists support a claim by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that efforts to adapt to climate change could create "millions of jobs" if enough funding is available.

"There is huge potential," particularly in developing countries, according to Poonam Ahluwalia, president of Youth Employment Summit, a US-based group which specialises in the creation of sustainable employment for young people.

"I would like to see a climate change fund that would put money aside to fund youth employment projects in (climate change) mitigation, emission reduction, energy conservation and clean energy production," she said in Doha on Sunday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the UN Conference on Financing for Development, Ahluwalia said developing countries have been disproportionately affected by climate change compared with countries where carbon emissions are highest, "and that should be reflected in aid funding."

The UN's Ban said in Doha on Friday that studies show 10 million jobs could be lost because of the global economic crisis.

Taking strong action to adapt to climate change could lead to renewed growth and implementing the relevant technologies could create "millions of jobs," he said.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso told delegates on Saturday that efforts to deal with climate change "will fail" unless poorer countries are helped to adapt to the environmental and technological challenges.

A conference on climate change is scheduled to open in Poznan in Poland on Monday, to be followed by a summit next year in Copenhagen, where new emission reduction targets are scheduled to be agreed to follow those of the Kyoto accord.
"Doha and Poznan have to move forward together, hand in hand. Indeed, Copenhagen will not succeed without a serious solution on adaptation," Barroso said.

He told AFP on Friday that projects to deal with climate change and provide energy security can contribute to growth, while renewable energy projects such as solar power "can be a great source of revenue" in developing countries.

Ahuwalia said developing countries need help with funding in order to pay the upfront costs of implementing sustainable technology.

"One project in India is for renewable energy lanterns" which can be assembled locally, creating jobs, but cost 80 dollars -- around eight times the cost of a non-renewable lantern.

But the renewable lanterns cost very little to operate, "so over time can lead to big savings as well as a reduction in carbon emissions," she said.

The YES campaign, funded by the US government aid programme, Microsoft and Levi Strauss, aims to create two million green employment opportunities by 2012.

"We can no longer view addressing the climate crisis, poverty eradication efforts, and providing employment opportunities for youth in developing countries as separate from each other," Ahuwalia said.

Dan Timms, senior spokesman for Oxfam, said the organisation is already implementing many climate change adaptation projects which will maintain existing low-energy occupations or create sustainable new jobs.

"In South Africa, for example, farmers are planting faster-maturing crops, making the most of less-reliable rains. In Bangladesh, villagers are creating floating vegetable gardens to protect their livelihoods against flooding," he said.

"In Vietnam, communities are planting dense mangroves along the coast, to diffuse storm waves."

Timms said it is important that new funding is found to help developing countries adapt to climate change, as there is a threat that some donors may otherwise simply divert aid from other vital projects such as in health or education.

Hilde Frafjord Johnson, deputy executive director of UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, said that for poverty reduction goals to be met, jobs must be found for the large numbers of young people in developing countries.

Adapting to climate change could help fill this need, she said.

In Afghanistan, which Johnson visited recently, 68 percent of the population is under 25 and it is "absolutely critical" that young people there be given opportunities to keep them from being tempted astray.

Globally, UNICEF has previously focused its education work on children of primary school age, but has begun doing more with adolescents to prepare them better for opportunities they may have as adults, she said.

Andrew is a member of Barnet Green Party, but now based in Cyprus.

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