It is widely acknowledged that developing countries will suffer a great deal from climate change. They are vulnerable to effects like rising sea levels and increased frequency and severity of extreme weather. They also have more limited means available to respond, as well as other serious problems to deal with. Providing adaptation funding is therefore seen as an important means of getting them on-side for climate change mitigation. It could be offered as an incentive to cut emissions.
That being said, there is a strong case to be made that developing countries should not need to do anything in exchange for adaptation funding. Making them do so is essentially akin to injuring someone, then demanding something in return for the damages they win against you in court. The historical emissions of developed states have primarily induced the climate change problem; as such, developing states suffering from its effects have a right to demand compensation.
Very roughly, the developed world as a whole is responsible for about 70% of emissions to date. The United States has produced about 22% of the anthropogenic greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere; Western Europe is responsible for about 17%; Canada represents something like 2% of the total. It can be argued that – by rights – states like Bangladesh and Ghana should be dividing their total costs for adaptation and sending the bill to other states, on the basis of historical emissions.
That being said, it is only fair to say that developed states are only culpable for a portion of their total emissions, on account of how the science of climate change was not well understood until fairly recently. Exactly where to draw the line is unclear, but that doesn’t especially matter since developing states simply don’t have the power to demand adaptation transfers on the basis of past harms. States that developed through the extensive use of fossil fuels will continue to use the influence they acquired through that course of military and economic strengthening to make others bear most of the costs for their pollution.