barc_09We can bail out the bankers – But we can’t bail out ourselves.

That is the ironic situation we find ourselves in with the clock ticking towards the crucial climate talks in Copenhagen.  This morning the last diplomatic negotiations before Copenhagen started in Barcelona, Yvo de Boer, the head of the UNFCCC said:

“I welcome you to the last five days of formal negotiating time before Copenhagen.  The clock has almost ticked down to zero. And, as always, time will fly.  These last five days are critical on the road to success in Copenhagen …. A successful agreed outcome needs to capture a level of ambition that is commensurate with the scale of the problem”.

But that level of ambition is still totally lacking.

Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC – the world’s leading scientists on climate change – has said: “Science has been moved aside and the space has been filled up with political myopia with every country now trying to protect its own narrow short-term interests. They are afraid to have negotiations go any further because they would have to compromise on those interests.”

Over the last eighteen months the banks have been paid trillions of dollars. Yet with just weeks before Copenhagen the gap between what the rich will pay and what the poor need remains as large as ever.

Developing countries say they need to $400 billion to reduce their carbon emissions while the EU thinks it should cost them just over £30bn.  That huge gap is proving the latest and largest stumbling block between the rich and poor

So at the end of the day, Copenhagen is not a deal about the climate it’s a squabble about money. As the Independent quotes this morning: “You think it’s about greenhouse gases. You think it’s about carbon emissions. And it is. But the Copenhagen agreement on climate change that the world community will attempt to sign in December is just as much about money – enormous, mind-boggling amounts of money.”

But this money has a human cost to it.

Save the Children argues that a quarter of a million children could die next year due to the effects of climate change. The charity said the figure could rise to more than 400,000 per year by 2030.

Its a report launched today, entitled Feeling the Heat, it claims that climate change is the biggest global health threat to children in the 21st century. The charity predicts that 175 million children a year will suffer the consequences of natural disasters such as cyclones, droughts and floods by 2030.

It warns that more than 900 million children in the next generation will be affected by water shortages and 160 million more children will be at risk of catching malaria – one of the biggest killers of children under five – as it spreads to new parts of the world.

As kids die, the rich countries – in their “myopic” battle on climate change – are going to squabble on cash. Is that a response that is “commensurate with the scale of the problem”.

I don’t think so…