Such intimidating numbers: To adapt to destructive climate change, developing countries need US$30-$50 billion annually between now and 2020, and US$100 billion annually thereafter, according to U.N. and World Bank estimates.
By the end of the U.N.-sponsored climate negotations wrapping up this week in Copenhagen, developed nations are likely to pledge more. But most of the funding gap is not likely to be closed.
A ray of hope: What if all hundred finalist projects of DM2009's "Climate Adaptation" competition were to be financed? Their total cost would be about US$17.5 million.
These early-stage projects are as solid as any adaptation proposals anywhere in the developing world. They all survived rigorous scrutiny to be among the 6 percent of more than 1,700 applications that made it to the DM finals. They focus on helping poor and other vulnerable people who are those most affected by climate change. Most of the projects are designed to be replicated widely, so they have the potential of helping millions of people threatened by flooding, drought, and rising sea levels -- and also protecting many ecosystems throughout the globe.
The Secretariat of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) could help to make this happen by recommending that up to US$17.5 million of any new adaptation funding for developing countries be earmarked for the DM finalists.
The issue is not billions or even hundreds of millions of dollars -- just a tiny fraction of the lowest estimated cost of adaptation in developing countries. Could developed nations, who are responsible for most of the global warming that is hitting the poorest countries hardest, say anything but yes to that?