Oxfam reaction to the IPCC’s Working Group II report on climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability

Campaigns and Advocacy, Climate Change, News article written on the 01 Mar 2022

Responding to the publication of the IPCC’s Working Group II report assessing climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, Oxfam Australia’s Acting Chief Executive Anthea Spinks said:

“This catalogue of pain, loss and suffering must be a wake-up call to everyone. The poorest who have done the least to contribute to climate change are suffering the most and we have a moral responsibility to help those communities adapt.

“Inequality is at the heart of today’s climate crisis — in the little over 100 days since COP26, the richest 1% of the world’s population have emitted as much carbon as the population of Africa does in an entire year.

“The super-rich are racing through the planet’s small remaining carbon budget for limiting global warming to 1.5°C. The world’s collective climate commitments will see us fly by 1.5 degrees by the end of the decade. Clearly, the time has come to claw back their outsized wealth, power and consumption through wealth taxes or bans on carbon-hungry luxury goods like private jets and mega yachts.

“People living in the most affected countries do not need this report to tell them that the climate has changed. The highest price is already being paid by the cattle farmer in Somalia whose entire herd has died from thirst. By the mother sheltering in a school gym in the Philippines because her home was swept away just before Christmas. And the women’s group in the Solomon Islands whose community garden has been poisoned by salt water from the rising sea.

“Regardless of how quickly governments and corporations cut carbon emissions, some warming is already baked-in from our past behaviour. While more must be done to reduce emissions as quickly as possible, it’s shortsighted — and too late — to focus almost exclusively on mitigation. Billions of people need early warning systems, access to renewable energy and improved crop production now, not after we bring emissions under control.

“Just a quarter of all climate finance for vulnerable countries is for adaptation. The recent agreement at COP26 to double adaptation finance to USD$40 billion by 2025 will help, but it is nowhere near enough. The UN estimates that developing countries need USD$70 billion every year to adapt and those costs are not falling.

“Rich countries like Australia are overwhelmingly responsible for the climate crisis and must do more to support the poorest communities whose citizens struggle to meet their daily needs let alone prepare for the future.

“Australia has pledged AUD$2 billion over five years to 2025, but this is only a fraction of our fair share of climate finance based on our wealth and emissions. Oxfam Australia has estimated that by 2030, Australia’s fair share could be up to AUD$12 billion per year to support climate action in developing countries if we do not rapidly reduce emissions. No matter how much finance is made available, it is critically important that Australia stands by its long-standing commitment to equally finance efforts that reduce emissions and support people at the frontline of the crisis to adapt to climate change impacts.

“The other clear message from this report is that we are all in the driver’s seat. Our foot is on the accelerator and every squeeze produces more harmful gases and higher temperatures. Every ton of carbon we avoid increases the chances of a livable planet — there is a huge difference between 1.5°C and 1.6°C of heating.

“We must adapt, and we must ensure the planet remains adaptable. Because runaway global heating will only lead to events that we cannot build back from — deaths, submerged homes, non-arable wastelands, and mass migrations of desperate people.”

For interviews, contact Jackie Hanafie on 0493 393 416jackieh@oxfam.org.au.

Notes to editors

Photos of Somalia’s Jubaland drought are available for download.

Since COP26, the world’s richest 1 percent (79 million people) have emitted an estimated 1.7 billion tons in carbon emissions. This is more than the continent of Africa emits in an entire year, home to almost 1.4 billion people. According to the Global Carbon Project, Africa’s consumption emissions for 2019 (latest year available) were 1.03 billion tons (1.03 billion tons divided by 365 x 107 = 294 million tons emitted by Africa in 107 days). Calculations were made using Oxfam and the Stockholm Environment Institute’s Confronting Carbon Inequality report.

Recent data from Oxfam shows that the wealthiest 1 percent of humanity are responsible for twice as many emissions as the poorest 50 percent, and that by 2030, their carbon footprints are in fact set to be 30 times greater than the level compatible with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.

According to Boat International, the superyacht industry has largely shrugged off the COVID-19 pandemic to record a third year of consistent order book growth. The 2022 Global Order Book records 1,024 projects in build or on order, a rise of 24.7 percent on last year’s 821.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), developed countries provided only around USD$80 billion in climate finance in 2019. While the UN Secretary-General, Oxfam and others have called for half the money to be spent on adaptation, only about a quarter of total climate finance goes to adaptation.

The UN Environment Program (UNEP) estimates that annual adaptation costs in developing countries are expected to reach $140 to $300 billion in 2030 and $280 to $500 billion in 2050.

The UNFCCC estimates Somalia could need USD$48.5 billion to adapt to climate change between now and 2030. Somalia’s GDP is less than USD$7 billion (2020).