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In Bali, developing nations push for climate aid

At the UN-sponsored climate talks, countries seek money to cope with severe floods and other global-warming effects.

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High in the Himalayas, Bhutan is scrambling to fend off the onrushing effects of climate change. Two dozen lakes swollen by glacial melting are in danger of bursting their earthen dams and sweeping through the mountain kingdom like an inland tsunami.

"This is a big problem for Bhutan" as it tries to adapt to climate change, says Thinley Namgyel, with the country's National Environment Commission.

To reduce the risk, the government has set up a flood-adaptation project, splitting the $6.9 million cost with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which oversees two funds to help developing countries cope with global warming.

The country's vulnerability – and the effort it's making to reduce it – highlights one of the hot-button issues at UN-sponsored climate talks here in Bali: The burgeoning need to help developing countries adapt to global warming. Despite mechanisms such as the GEF, demand for adaptation assistance far outstrips the cash on hand to supply it.

Boosting the amount of money and determining who will control the agency that doles it out are critical items on the developing-country agenda here, says Kate Raworth, senior researcher with the international development organization Oxfam.

Currently, adaptation money comes from two global funds that rely on voluntary donations from wealthy nations, but falls far short of what is needed. Rich nations have pledged a combined $220.4 million, but as of September had delivered only $116.6 million – a "pathetic" amount, says Ms. Raworth, who puts the immediate needs among the poorest nations at $1 billion to $2 billion a year.

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