With 2016 on track to be the hottest year ever and a super-charged El Niño putting over 60 million lives at the mercy of unpredictable climate shocks, it’s more urgent than ever to help communities adapt to climate change, said Oxfam at the start of the United Nation’s climate conference in Bonn, Germany.
People living in poverty are the most vulnerable to severe droughts, crop losses, famines, floods, and disease linked to climate change. Small-scale farmers across the world are already dealing with these effects, but are being left on their own. In a new report, “Unfinished Business,” Oxfam describes how the Paris deal does not guarantee that poor countries will receive the financial support they need to afford expensive climate adaptation measures, such as flood defenses and drought-resistant crops.
The cost for developing countries to adapt to climate change could go as high as $500 billion a year by 2050, according to a report released this week by the UN.
While the Paris deal does call for more funds to help countries afford these projects, it doesn’t specify how much money, when it would be distributed, how it’s being counted, or how it’ll be raised. Oxfam is urging negotiators meeting this week to put adaptation funding at the top of their agenda for November’s COP in Morocco. There, government ministers will need to give clear answers to these unanswered questions.
“This issue cannot be kicked down the road any further,” said Oxfam climate change expert Tracy Carty. “We’ve known about the growing gap in adaptation funding for years now, and we were dismayed when the Paris deal failed to fix it. We need to see specific commitments in Bonn to increase adaptation finance and for that money to be spent supporting small farmers who are on the front lines of the climate crisis. We’re already seeing the price of failure; tens of millions of people around the world face hunger and poverty from the droughts and crop failures caused by El Niño.”
In 2009, rich nations pledged to raise $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer countries adapt to climate change and cut carbon emissions. Current estimates say just 16% of that is going towards adaptation projects. Oxfam believes that figure should be boosted to at least 35% by 2020, and it should come from grants and other forms of financing that won’t burden countries with heavy repayments. By 2025, that percentage should go up to 50%.