Oxfam: Rich countries must be transparent on climate finance at COP19

• November 11, 2013
climate finance

Oxfam warn that “murky accounting” has left vulnerable countries left in the dark over climate finance. Creative Commons: P. Casier (CIGAR), 2010

As the UN climate talks get underway in Poland today, a new briefing from Oxfam warns that many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable nations are being left in the dark over climate finance.

In a new report (pdf) organisation warns that lack of transparency and “murky accounting” by rich countries has left these countries with little idea about what money is available to help them cope with climate impacts.

Oxfam’s Kelly Dent said:

Rich countries must make it clear to poor countries what money is available now and in the coming years to help them adapt to climate change and reduce their emissions. Uncertainty from one year to the next makes it impossible for vulnerable countries to take the action they need to protect their citizens.

This murkiness will only heighten distrust around the negotiating table.

Looking at how much money has been made available by the biggest climate finance contributors for the period 2013 – the end of the Fast Start Finance period – to 2015, they found that 24 developed countries have still not confirmed their climate finance for this year.

For 2014, the situation looks even worse, as the countries, that together provided 81% of Fast Start Finance, have still not announced any figures.

Just one country – the UK – has announced its plans for climate finance in 2015.

At the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009, countries agreed to scale up climate funding to £100 billion a year by 2020. Many argue that even this figure is too low.

Oxfam estimates that in 2013, developed countries claim to have made $16.3 billion in climate finance contribution. The actual net budget allocation may be much smaller however, close to $7.6 billion, as some countries have counted loans that will be repaid to them.

This $7.6 to $16.3 billion is still well below even the lowest estimate of what it is going to cost developing countries to adapt to climate change – ranging between $27 and $100 billion.

When compared to the $55 to $90 billion a year spent between 2005-11 on fossil fuel subsidies, the €1 billion spent by the Netherlands to protect its own low-land from flooding, or the $12 billion that Australia is expected to spend to 2018 on adapting to domestic water, the amount provide in climate finance to vulnerable nations pales in comparison.

Meanwhile it is impossible to say how this year’s commitment compares to previous years because the accounting methods are so complex and opaque. For most countries, however, finance levels appear to have either plateaued or decreased.

Rather than being additional money for climate action, much of what is being counted has instead been redirected from overseas aid budgets or climate-related development action – not principally focused on climate action.

Only the US, the EU, Japan and New Zealand adhered to last year’s agreement to say how they will increase funding to reach their share of the $100 billion a year promised by 2020.

Even their submission, however, raise more questions than they answer and fail to provide reassurance that the $100 billion will ever materialise.

Dent said:

The rich are protecting their own back-yards while continuing to invest heavily in polluting energies which is fuelling climate change. Greater transparency, accountability and a plan that sets out how countries will increase funding is essential. Rich countries cannot be allowed to kick this vital issue down the road again. If they do, it will mean more hungry people, more damaging climate change emissions, and a further breakdown in trust that could bury hopes for a global climate deal in 2015.

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TckTckTck is the online hub for the Global Call for Climate Action. The GCCA represents an unprecedented alliance of more than 400 nonprofit organizations from around the world. Our shared mission is to mobilize civil society and galvanize public support to ensure a safe climate future for people and nature, to promote the low-carbon transition of our economies, and to accelerate the adaptation efforts in communities already affected by climate change.

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