Financing climate change adaptation won’t break the bank: new report

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 02 Dec 2008

As the financial crisis deepens a new report released today recommends alternative ways to fund measures to help developing countries adapt to the new reality of climate change without increasing government taxes on tax-payers.
The report, Turning Carbon Into Gold, released by international aid agency Oxfam, highlights the realities faced by poor communities in the developing world who are hit hardest by the effects of climate change, despite being least responsible for the problem.
Oxfam Australia climate change coordinator Julie-Anne Richards, who is in Poland for the meeting, said if poor countries failed to adapt to the new reality of climate change, they would suffer far greater damage from floods, droughts and hurricanes. Ms Richards said at least US $50 billion per year was needed to fund adaptation in developing countries, with more necessary if a new climate change deal was inadequate to keep global warming to below 2°C.
The report recommends revenue-raising measures of:
• A percentage of international emissions units allocated to wealthy countries under a post-Kyoto agreement could be auctioned rather than given away free to countries,
• New levies within the aviation and shipping sectors, currently under no international obligation to reduce emissions, despite the fact that their emissions are rising faster than any other industry.
“These innovative measures mean the large amounts of money required can be generated without necessarily putting extra burdens on governments,” Ms Richards said.
At the UN climate change meeting in Bali last December, governments recognised that adaptation – helping developing countries adapt to climate change – should be central to negotiations. The Bali Action Plan provides a mandate to negotiate on ‘new and additional resources’ and the use of ‘innovative finance mechanisms’ to address urgent and compelling climate adaptation needs.
Oxfam estimates that more than US $50 billion could be raised each year by 2015 by auctioning just 7.5 per cent of rich countries’ international emissions units. This money should be handed to a new multilateral adaptation-finance mechanism under the UNFCCC. “Helping vulnerable people cope with the effects of climate change is desperately needed today because they already face increasingly severe and ever-worsening climate change impacts,” Ms Richards said.
She said poor countries needed help to build up their resilience by, for example, upgrading national flood early-warning systems, planting mangrove ‘bio-shields’ along coasts to diffuse storm waves and growing drought-tolerant crops. “It is extremely important for negotiators in Poznan to reach a broad understanding about how best to raise adaptation money because they have paid lip-service to the issue for too long,” Ms Richards said.
“It is a vital part of the overall deal – a litmus test of how serious rich countries are in tackling the problem. Even during tempestuous financial times, rich countries can and should help poor people cope. We cannot afford to exchange a short-term saving for a long-term disaster.”

Read the report

For more information or to interview Julie-Anne Richards, please contact Laurelle Keough on 0409 960 100 or