Major emitters must commit to mandatory emissions cuts and adaptation funding in Hawaii

Published: 29 January 2008

This week’s meeting of the world’s biggest carbon emitters in Hawaii must not distract from the successes achieved at last month’s UN climate change conference in Bali, international organization Oxfam warned today.

Oxfam urged the United States – the hosts of the Honolulu conference – and the other rich countries of the 16 invited countries to commit to mandatory emissions cuts and substantial new funding to help poor countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. Oxfam is concerned that more than 170 UN members have not been invited to Hawaii, specifically poor countries most at risk of climate change.

“The challenge of climate change is global and needs a global solution, not one concocted only by those countries most responsible for causing the problem,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. “The UN process aims to build an international consensus for a new international climate agreement. In contrast, many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable nations have not been invited to participate in, or even to observe, the Hawaii meetings.”

Oxfam believes the UN is ultimately the only legitimate international forum where all rich countries must agree ambitious targets and funding to address climate change. At best, the talks in Hawaii can contribute to that.

Oxfam welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda’s announcement this week to prioritize climate change at this year’s G8 Summit. It was encouraged by his statements and commitments by President Bush to fund adaptation and clean energy efforts in poor countries, but said they needed to be supported by action. Oxfam estimates that adapting to climate change in all developing countries is likely to cost at least $50bn each year.

“Dollars for clean energy and adaptation in developing countries need to be additional to current aid flows,” said Offenheiser. “Most importantly, such funds must be tied to international commitments and coupled with mandatory emission cuts. Should the world fail to act in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the costs and the consequences will only get worse.”

Human-induced climate change already threatens many of the world’s poor, who are the least responsible for it and are least able to adapt. For this reason, rich countries must lead the way and commit to cutting their emissions by at least 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 in order to keep global warming below 2°C. Global emissions must be well below 50 percent of 1990 levels by 2050.

“As one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, and the host of this meeting, the United States has a responsibility to address the increasingly severe impacts of climate change on developing countries, both by leading the effort to reduce global warming emissions through mandatory international targets and by helping to finance assistance to the most vulnerable communities to adapt to climate impacts,” said Offenheiser.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:
Laura Rusu in Washington, DC +1 202 496 1169 or +1 202 459 3739
Hannah Storm in Oxford +44 (0)1865 339157 or +44 (0)7725 042539