Climate: short-term reduction targets and adaptation funding are keys to G8 success, says Oxfam

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 08 Jul 2008

The G8 leaders need to immediately agree short-term targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 or tip the balance irreversibly towards dangerous climate change.
For developed countries this would be in the order of at least 25 – 40 per cent by 2020 based on 1990 levels.
As Prime Minister Kevin Rudd heads to Japan, Oxfam also called for dramatic increases in funding for developing countries to adapt to climate change – at least $55 billion per annum – far beyond the $550 million contemplated for adaptation in the new G8 Climate Investment Funds.
“Last Friday, Professor Ross Garnaut recognised the urgency of the impacts of climate change, and we encourage the Prime Minister to reflect that level of urgency in his discussions at the G8,” said Oxfam Australia’s acting executive director James Ensor.
Professor Garnaut pointed to Australia’s developing neighbours already struggling to cope with the impact of climate change. “The nation of Tuvalu faces the prospect of disappearing completely due to sea level rise, as do other low-lying islands in the Pacific, including those in Papua New Guinea, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands,” Mr Ensor said.
“For the millions of poor people already living with the disastrous consequences of climate change, this G8 is a significant opportunity not to be missed. We don’t need more haggling or finger-pointing. We need urgent action to ensure emissions peak in the next few years. Without it, decades of progress in the fight against poverty will be undone.”
“Any emissions reductions target for 2050 is a pipe dream without action now,” Mr Ensor added. “Canada, the US, and Japan are holding the world hostage on 2020 targets – and poor people are paying the price. China, India and all other developing countries already agreed in Bali to do their fair share. Major developing countries and the four European G8 members agree 2020 targets are a benchmark for success at this G8.”
Oxfam acknowledged the new Climate Investment Funds could help poor countries adapt to changes that are now inevitable, but said it is a drop in the bucket and will be taken away from aid money to fund health and education. Ethiopia’s immediate climate adaptation needs alone will cost $890 million, the agency said. Besides the new funds, rich countries have pledged only $190 million to the UN’s adaptation fund for all of the 49 Least Developed Countries.
Oxfam decried the imbalance between the G8’s new clean technology fund ($4 billion or $5 billion) and its adaptation fund ($550 million).
“The G8’s priorities are out of whack,” Mr Ensor said. “Billions for their own companies to fund technology, and peanuts for the poorest to adapt. They talk of a promise to reduce emissions by a date when none of them will be alive, yet refuse to address the next few years when they can make a difference and which are absolutely crucial.”
Climate change is not unrelated to the devastating rise in food prices in the past year, Oxfam said. A leaked World Bank report attributes 75 per cent of the price increase to the diversion of crops to biofuels, especially corn-based ethanol in the Unites States and Canada, and oilseeds-based biodiesel in Europe. Governments tout them as a solution to climate change, yet the latest science shows they may produce as much emissions as gasoline, Oxfam said.
Oxfam Australia is part of the Make Poverty History coalition, which launches its climate change report, See the Bigger Picture, this weekend. The report will include an analysis of the Garnaut draft report.
Contact: Louis Belanger, Oxfam press officer at the G8 on +81 80 2610 5564, or Laurelle Keough, Oxfam Australia, on 03 9289 9336, 0409 960 100,