Rich, polluting countries such as Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States are short-changing poor countries of billions of dollars that they need to cut emissions and adapt to the climate crisis, Oxfam said today.
The two-day pledging conference to the Green Climate Fund begins in Paris today (Thursday).
To date, developed countries have pledged $7.5 billion to the Fund to cover the next four-year spending period. This is just half of the $15 billion that Oxfam believes should be the target for the replenishment process in order to meet the growing needs of developing countries, with more than 300 potential project proposals in the fund’s pipeline.
- Australia has indicated that it will join the United States and refuse to provide new funds in this round.
- Canada, Austria and the Netherlands have contributed a third of what Oxfam calculates would be their fair share.
- Countries such as Japan, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, Portugal and New Zealand have yet to announce their contribution.
By comparison, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Norway and Sweden have doubled their contributions since the first funding round in 2014-15.
Oxfam Australia’s climate change expert, Dr Simon Bradshaw, said it was shameful that Australia has joined the United States as one of only two countries walking away from the Green Climate Fund and turning its back on the world’s poorest people – who will be hit first and worst by the climate crisis.
“We are dismayed that at a time when vulnerable communities – in particular our neighbours throughout the Pacific – are facing ever more grave threats to their livelihoods, security and wellbeing, that Australia would stop funding one of their most critical lifelines,” Dr Bradshaw said.
“The Green Climate Fund is both a vital source of support to those on the frontlines of the climate crisis and key to enabling developing countries to build the zero-carbon economies of the future.
“For Australia, walking away from the Green Climate Fund is particularly bizarre and self-defeating. Our Government played an active and positive role during the early years of the Fund, in particular working to ensure that it would better serve the unique challenges faced by Pacific island countries.
“While recognising the Government will continue to provide some assistance to countries directly through bilateral aid, the multilateral Green Climate Fund remains a key pillar of the support available to developing nations responding to the climate crisis. It’s at the heart of international cooperation under the Paris Agreement.
“Walking away will further undermine our waning international credibility and puts the Government squarely at odds with the millions of people across Australia and our region demanding we do more to respond to the climate crisis.”
The Green Climate Fund was established in 2010 and is the main multilateral channel through which rich countries can support poor countries to tackle the climate crisis. Over the past four years, more than 110 projects in developing countries have been allocated financial support from the fund for projects such as the expansion of solar power in Nigeria and Mali, the restoration of forests in Honduras, and the creation of more resilient agriculture systems in Bhutan and Belize.
Armelle Le Comte, Climate and Energy Advocacy Manager for Oxfam France, who is at the pledging conference, said, “The Green Climate Fund is a lifeline for poor countries that need help to cut emissions and adapt to an increasingly erratic and extreme climate. Global investments in oil, gas and coal supply and power generation topped US$933 billion in 2018 – we are spending 100 times more on fossil fuels than governments appear to be willing to put into the world’s flagship climate fund,” Ms Le Comte said.
For media interviews with Oxfam climate change experts in Australia or France, or copies of an Oxfam background briefing, please contact Dylan Quinnell on 0450 668 350 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editor:
A background briefing on the Green Climate Fund with a breakdown of contributions form key developed countries is available online.
The International Energy Agency estimates that oil, gas and coal investments totalled US$933 billion in 2018 https://www.iea.org/wei2019/
The GCF is one of a range of channels, funds and initiatives through which developed countries provide climate finance to developing countries, in order to meet their overall target of delivering $100 billion of climate finance a year by 2020. Oxfam believes the GCF is an effective channel for delivering climate finance because it has an equal number of seats for developing countries on its board, a commitment to allocate at least 50 percent of funds to adaptation and to mainstream gender, and a structure that allows funds to be channeled directly to developing countries rather than through other agencies like the World Bank.
Oxfam is working with poor communities around the globe to help them adapt to a changing climate and cut their emissions. For example, rice production is also a major contributor to the climate crisis – half of all emissions of methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, come from cattle and rice fields. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is a way of managing the plants, soil, water and nutrients so that farmers can produce more rice using less water, chemicals and seeds. It significantly reduces methane emissions. More than 1.5 million smallholder farmers in groups supported by Oxfam’s partners in Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam have benefited from SRI. Testimonies and pictures are available here.