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APEC must point the way to an ambitious climate change deal

International agency Oxfam is calling on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Heads of State to kick-start an ambitious plan to tackle climate change amid widespread concern that this week’s APEC summit in Sydney will fail to meaningfully address this crucial issue.

“With some of the world’s richest and biggest polluting countries in its membership, it’s not enough for APEC to agree to what they’re calling aspirational goals. We need to see some real action now,” said Barry Coates, Oxfam’s Executive Director.

APEC’s 21 members include Australia, Canada, China, Indonesia, Japan and Russia, who between them are responsible for around half the world’s global warming pollution.

“Smaller APEC members such as New Zealand can play an influential role in raising climate change concerns at the Sydney Summit,” added Coates. “It is critical, however, that New Zealand supports strong targets for cuts in greenhouse emissions, rather than opposing them as the government did in Vienna last week.”

The Vienna round of climate change talks and the Sydney APEC Summit are significant opportunities leading to the December 2007 meeting in Bali of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Oxfam wants governments to deliver on their stated support for climate change action by working immediately on a new agreement that binds them to substantial reductions in global warming pollution.

Oxfam is also concerned that greater support be provided to help developing countries build resilience to the impacts of climate change. These adaptation resources should not be diverted away from ongoing poverty reduction programmes, but be truly additional to existing aid budgets.

“Key APEC members are laggards in providing finance for adaptation, despite being most responsible for the problem and wealthy enough to pay. In Sydney they could start to set that right,” Coates said. “The changes needed to tackle the causes and effects of climate change must be substantial, sustainable and fair to the world’s poorest people.”

Developing countries in the Pacific are particularly susceptible to climate change impacts such as food insecurity, damage to marine ecosystems and more severe tropical storms and droughts. Additionally, more than 4 billion people – over 60 percent of the world’s population – live in Asia and half of them live near coasts.

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