A year after the Paris climate deal, most vulnerable are still not getting financial support they need

In “The Climate Finance Shadow Report 2016,” Oxfam shows that of the $41 billion per year that rich countries reported, the net worth specifically targeting climate action was just $11 to $21 billion. Of that, just $4 to $8 billion was earmarked to help poor countries adapt to the impacts of climate change, far short of what’s needed.

November 3, 2016

The amount of net financial assistance going to help developing countries fight climate change has been miscounted by tens of billions of dollars, according to a new Oxfam report released on the eve of the United Nations’ climate change conference in Morocco.

In “The Climate Finance Shadow Report 2016,” Oxfam shows that of the $41 billion per year that rich countries reported, the net worth specifically targeting climate action was just $11 to $21 billion. Of that, just $4 to $8 billion was earmarked to help poor countries adapt to the impacts of climate change, far short of what’s needed.

Lauren Ravon, Director of Policy and Campaigns for Oxfam Canada, said: “Combined with a ‘super’ El Niño, climate change has left around 60 million facing hunger this year alone. Droughts have killed crops; sea level rise has destroyed homes. Climate change is hitting poor people - especially poor rural women – the hardest. They need help to adapt to their new reality, but are still not getting it at the scale needed.”

“We can’t let adaptation, which can be life-saving for women around the planet, be the neglected child of climate finance,” she said. “Targeting adaptation to women can address both climate change and women’s rights - key priorities for this Government. For new climate financing, funds should be ear-marked for allocations to women-specific targeted interventions.”

Oxfam’s count also shows that just $8.7 billion of overall climate finance is going towards the Least Developed Countries, the group of 48 of the world’s poorest countries who are particularly vulnerable to climate change and lack the resources to handle its impacts.

Last year, Canada announced a contribution of $2.65 billion in climate finance, including $30 million for the Least Developed Countries Fund - but a large proportion has not been earmarked. While this commitment is a good start, to be a real leader, Canada must do more. Canada must continue commitments in in the form of grants not loans, and ensure that future climate financing is additionally allocated funds above already committed official development assistance, and targeted specifically to reach women.

Because the rules and reporting guidelines for what counts as climate finance are limited and poorly defined, Oxfam’s tally shows a very different picture from what rich countries have reported in the past. Developing countries are in danger of losing out sorely needed financial support that they’re legally owed under the UN climate change convention.

Ravon said: “As a feminist Government, Canada has a commitment to ensure climate finance is accessible to those who need it most:  women farmers who have least contributed but bear the brunt of climate impacts.”

Oxfam is also calling on all donor countries and major players at the conference in Marrakech to:

  • Increase financing for adaptation, particularly for vulnerable countries and populations and Least Developed Countries.
  • Work with developing countries’ governments to make funds more easily accessible to those that need it the most, for example women.
  • Make progress on tracking where the money’s going with improved accounting and reporting.

Climate funding wasn’t the only piece of unfinished business left over from Paris.  Without further greenhouse gas cuts, the world will become dangerously warmer. While this is Patricia Espinosa’s first conference as the UN’s climate change chief, Oxfam expects she will be able to guide negotiators towards solutions for these and other problems.

“The Paris Agreement wasn’t just a one-off moment; it must mark the start of deeper international collaboration to fight climate change,” Ravon added.

“The world cannot afford the alternative. The human costs of climate change, especially for poor rural women, are much too high.”

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Notes to Editors: 

This report assesses 2020 climate finance commitments, and climate finance contributions for the period 2013–14 (bilateral and multilateral) using three main sources of data:

  • The UNFCCC second biennial reports produced by donor countries
  • The OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) database, which captures the climate-relevance of donors’ ODA spending
  • The recently published Roadmap to $100 Billion by developed countries, and associated technical report by OECD.

 There are two key differences in how Oxfam counts climate finance compared to how the developed countries do:

  • The first is how loans are counted. Oxfam’s estimate counts only the concessional element of loans or other non-grant instruments, not their face value.
  • The second major issue is that most countries (legitimately) report funds for projects that only partially cover climate action. Our assessment is that approaches used in determining the value of the climate component of such projects lacks rigor, such that the climate-relevance of these funds is being overstated.

According to the UN’s Environment Programme, developing countries could face up to $300 billion in climate change adaptation costs per year by 2030.

With current emission cut pledges, the world is still on track to a 3 degree temperature increase. The Paris Agreement urges countries to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

Contact information

Melanie Gallant
Oxfam Canada Media Relations
613-240-3047
Melanie.gallant@oxfam.ca