Markets and Commerse - Your money

Spend climate cash smartly to make it stretch, experts urge


MARRAKESH, Morocco (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When heavy rains hit the tiny West African nation of Togo in September, filling a hydropower dam close to overflowing, the Togolese Red Cross took an unusual step. Rather than simply putting aid supplies in place to prepare for flooding, the agency sent cash to families living downstream so they could move out of the expected flood path. It also provided simple protection, such as plastic bags in which to keep birth certificates and other key papers dry.“If an event hits and you’re not prepared, only then is it going to become a disaster,” said Pablo Suarez of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, which is working increasingly on innovative ways to get money to threatened communities before disasters strike, to hold down costs and losses. As the world figures out ways to deal with worsening extreme weather and slower climate change effects such as sea-level rise and desertification, while speeding up adoption of clean energy, creativity will be needed to make the limited funds available stretch further and prevent losses from spiraling out of control, experts said at this week’s U. N. climate talks in Marrakesh. “It’s a no-brainer that the more we do on mitigation (of climate-changing emissions), the less we need to do on adaptation, and the less we have to spend on humanitarian work,” said Harjeet Singh, global lead on climate change for the charity ActionAid. But for the poorest and most vulnerable communities, focusing first on reducing emissions by adopting clean technology – something richer countries see as the clear priority – isn’t obvious or easy, said India-based Singh. GROWING LOSSES That is largely because vulnerable communities are suffering growing losses each year, not just from major storms and droughts but from smaller, more frequent “everyday disasters” that are gradually soaking up more of their income.

Colin McQuistan, of development charity Practical Action, pointed to Bangladeshi families that need to spend a larger share of their income on sandbags each year to protect their homes from river erosion.“Communities are reporting that more and more of their resources have to be allocated for these types of measures. What that means is they have less to invest in their development,” he said. As a result, when climate-affected communities are approached to install solar panels, for example, they are often enthusiastic but have no spare cash to invest.“It’s not either/or” when it comes to curbing emissions and coping with climate stresses, Singh said. “It’s just that people say, ‘I have to protect my home, my income, my family – and at the same time look at long-term solutions'.”

Developed nations have things in the wrong order when they want the poor to work first on cutting emissions, he said, because their priority is to find relief for climate-linked disasters. "Then people start talking about how this is the new normal and we need to do something, and they invest in risk reduction and adaptation. And only then do they look at the larger question of mitigation (of emissions),” he said. That could be changed partly by making sufficient international cash available to help the most vulnerable nations adapt to climate change, experts say. The latest U. N. figures released in Marrakesh on Monday show that no more than one dollar in every four of global climate finance goes to adaptation.“If we really want to see ambition, particularly from developing countries and particularly in the next few years, climate finance is the key that can unleash the potential,” Singh said.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY Other innovative ideas could help. Singh suggested, for instance, that funding through the $10-billion Green Climate Fund could be used to buy out the intellectual property rights of ground-breaking clean energy technology to make it available far more cheaply for countries such as India. That kind of investment could both meet the fund’s mission to shift paradigms, and help clear the way for rapid scaling-up of clean technology in developing countries – a key to keeping global warming to well under 2 degrees Celsius, as agreed in Paris last year, Singh said.“If you create the conditions to attract trillions of dollars in investment, you can enable transformation in no time,” he said. That is particularly crucial now, said Liz Gallagher, a climate diplomacy expert at London-based environmental think tank E3G. “The next 15 years are going to fundamentally change our climate in a good or bad way” as long-term energy investments are made, she said.

Your money is it ever ok to lie about money


parent, or a kid about one's financial affairs? Terrible idea. But there are absolutes, and then there is real life. Real life is messy sometimes, and confusing, and not always what you wanted. And in real life, most of us lie about money. A lot. According to one survey from the Baltimore-based fund shop T. Rowe Price, 77 percent of parents say they are not always honest with their kids about finances. Fifteen percent fudge the truth at least once a week. When it comes to spouses, nearly half of Americans lie to their partners about money, according to research on "financial infidelity" by TODAY.com and Self Magazine. Which begs the question: Is it ever OK to lie about money?"Sure," says Mark La Spisa, president of Vermillion Financial Advisors in South Barrington, Illinois. "Money is private, and you are not obligated to share all your financial information with every family member. In fact, sometimes talking too much about money can open you up to be a victim."After all, some lies are made with the best intentions. If you are struggling with serious money problems, for instance, you likely don't want to share that information with your 6-year-old.

Coming up with the mortgage payment or putting food on the table are very adult concerns - kids should not fret about those issues, which could cause long-term insecurities. If too-young children ask about family finances, most people might say everything is fine, and there is nothing to worry about. Such a lie isn't malicious; in fact, it is done with their interests at heart. Ask Trent Hamm, and he'll describe an elaborate money lie he once had going with his wife, Sarah. Hamm, a writer in Des Moines, Iowa, was siphoning money out of the couple's accounts, a little at a time. When Sarah noticed what was going on and asked him about it, Hamm made up yet another lie to cover his tracks: that the withdrawals were to cover the cost of lunch with a buddy. In reality, Hamm was saving up to buy her a custom necklace, complete with five birthstones. (The couple have three kids.) "I felt guilty about it, but it was worth it," says Hamm, 35. "And I confessed it to her when she received the necklace."

Some of the most common money lies, according to the Financial Infidelity poll: hiding a purchase from your partner, claiming it was bought on sale or asserting that something new was obtained long ago. HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY Roughly 6 million Americans keep financial accounts concealed from their significant others, according to a poll by CreditCards.com. Such secrets might be kept to maintain a feeling of financial independence."There is a lot of fear around the question, 'Am I going to be OK in future?' " says Mikelann Valterra, a financial coach in Seattle and the author of "Why Women Earn Less." "They're creating pockets of security so they'll be able to sleep at night.

Valterra's advice? Tell your marital partner the truth. "When it comes to other relatives, you don't owe them anything," she says. "If they are constantly hounding you for money, being over-honest could harm you."There are a host of other tricky scenarios that play out among families every day. If your child wants you to splurge on a pricey item, for instance, how do you respond? According to the T. Rowe Price survey, 32 percent of parents lie and say they can't afford it. One of those parents: Toronto writer Samantha Kemp-Jackson. When one of her four kids wants to buy something overly expensive, Kemp-Jackson has no qualms about lying and saying the bank account is empty."Kids ask questions every 30 seconds, and if you have a deep discussion about every single one, you're going to be answering questions all day and all night," she says, laughing. "Sometimes I think it's perfectly fine to tell them a little fib about money, whether it's about your salary or some toy they don't need. Then you can go on your merry way and get the laundry done."A shortcut, maybe, but a highly effective one. Often the financial lies we're telling, however minor or harmless or even well-intentioned, may be unnecessary, says Robert Feldman, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and author of "The Liar In Your Life.""We don't expect people to tell us what their salary is, how much money they have in the bank, or how expensive their house is," Feldman says. "You can often just say, 'It's private, and I don't want to talk about it.'"That way, it's not necessary to come up with a lie. "Honesty isn't always a perfect policy - but it's still the best policy," Feldman says.