a bulletin on global warming and the Third World

issue 7  January 1993

published by the International Institute for
Environment and Development (London, UK) and the
University of East Anglia (Norwich, UK) with support
from the Swedish International Development Authority in
association with the Stockholm Environment Institute

editorial office:  TIEMPO, c/o Mick Kelly, School of
Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia,
Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK (email gn:crunorwich)


This issue, Weather Eye views the post-Earth Summit
landscape, noting a few changes for the better and much
that remains the same. 


After a six-month break, the Sixth Session of the
Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) was held
in Geneva in December 1992.

Third World delegates put the case for their own agenda
in no uncertain terms, insisting that concern about
climate change be placed in the context of social and
economic development. 

The focus of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) on
measures which will limit global environmental problems
alone was again attacked. Elizabeth Dowdeswell,
recently elected as successor to Mostafa Tolba as head
of UNEP, defended the GEF objectives, stating that
 they are global, and therefore affect the whole

The INC now has a working agenda to follow up the
provisions of the Framework Convention on Climate
Change and will hold its seventh meeting in New York in
March 1993.


Meanwhile, progress is being made in the planning of a
desertification convention. This follows the agreement
to work to this end reached at the Earth Summit after
much southern lobbying. 

The process has begun in the United Nations General
Assembly but will be continued by an Intergovernmental
Negotiating Committee for a Desertification Convention.
It is hoped that the Convention will be ready by June

Venues for the negotiating meetings proposed by the
G-77 group of developing nations provided a source of
mild contention. Japan and Australia voiced concern
about not only the number of meetings but also the
number of different locations: Nairobi, Rome, Geneva,
Paris and New York. To which the G-77 representative
dryly responded that it was not the Group's intention
to  undertake a tour of the world  but that advantage
should be taken of the presence of UN agencies in the
various cities.

In Weather Eye's view, the convention would probably
benefit most if the negotiators were confronted with
the reality of desertification, meeting in locations
afflicted by the problem. At least there was no
argument about the shape of the negotiating table.


The Clinton-Gore Administration may well produce a
profound shift in US attitudes towards the climate
negotiations. President Clinton has stated that he
would  support a climate change treaty in which the US
agrees to stabilize carbon dioxide emissions to 1990
levels by the year 2000  and  would give serious
consideration to the 20-30% reduction levels [committed
to by several other industrial countries].  

Meanwhile, Vice President Gore has emphasized that
 taking action to combat climate change is also an
economic imperative. The fact is that cutting carbon
dioxide emissions can most readily and effectively be
achieved by improving efficiency in every sector of the
economy. And improving efficiency means reducing waste,
enhancing productivity and profits. 

Let's hope that the campaign rhetoric has more staying
power than Bush's  No new taxes. 


 If it makes sense anyway, we're not going to support
it  seems to be the contrary message emerging from the
various multilateral environmental aid initiatives. 

In the case of the Global Environment Facility, support
is only available to cover the  incremental costs  of
environmental protection activities. This means that
measures which make economic sense at the national
level without international subsidy cannot be funded,
regardless of their benefit to the global environment. 

Many developing nations may well bias their plans
towards activities which fit the GEF requirements. The
net effect may well be the widespread adoption of
schemes which don't make good economic sense, yet
qualify for GEF funding, rather than the pursuit of the
most sensible courses of action. For example, promoting
geothermal power where improving energy efficiency
would be the common-sense strategy. 

The industrialized nations are reluctant to subsidize
the South on a multilateral basis except to the extent
that the funding will reduce global environmental
problems by encouraging actions which, in their view,
would not otherwise happen. It would be ironic if this
insistence sabotaged the international effort to curb
emissions by focusing undue attention on less effective


The Earth Summit in June 1992 called for a supplement
to the International Development Association (IDA), the
subsidized loan fund for the lowest income developing
countries, to support environmental protection
measures. World Bank proposals for the fund the Earth
Increment cover renewable energy sources and clean coal
technologies but explicitly exclude energy efficiency
on the grounds that low-income countries use
 comparatively little energy for industry, cars, and
household purposes. 

The fact that the best time to ensure high standards of
energy conservation is during the construction of
industry, transportation systems and so on appears to
have escaped the Bank's analysts. Or, maybe, in their
view, low-income developing countries are not expected
to achieve any significant level of growth.

Mind you, given that Ernest Stern of the World Bank has
warned that there is  serious doubt  that the IDA can
be maintained at its present level, let alone be
increased, the Earth Increment may never materialize.


Sir Bernard Ingham, press secretary to former UK Prime
Minister Margaret Thatcher, has recently been sharing
his views on aid and assistance:  Nations which cannot
feed themselves do not simply need aid. They need a
severe dose of colonial rule.