A home in Shariatpur, in Bangladesh surrounded by flood-water. When the flood was at its full height, a few days before, this land was completely submerged (1998). Credit: Shafiq Alam/Oxfam
2050 promise a pipe dream without year-on-year action starting now

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

“We don’t need more haggling or finger-pointing. We need urgent action.”
Antonio Hill
Oxfam Policy Advisor, Climate Change
Published: 7 July 2008

Unless the G8 leaders agree to immediate action and medium-term targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, any long-term promises will be unattainable, international agency Oxfam affirmed today in Japan. The agency also called for dramatic increases in funding for developing countries to adapt to climate change, far beyond those contemplated in the new G8 Climate Investment Funds.

“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,” said Antonio Hill, Oxfam spokesperson. “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,” Hill 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 US$800 million, the agency said. Besides the new funds, rich countries have pledged only US$170 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 (US$4 or $5 billion) and its adaptation fund (US$500 million). “The G8’s priorities are out of whack,” said Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International. “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% of the price increase to the diversion of crops to biofuels, especially corn-based ethanol in the United 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.

“The rich world cannot burn food while people starve,” Hill said. “What’s more, current biofuels will never represent more than a tiny fraction of the greenhouse gas savings needed.”