Poor countries left in the dark on climate finance: COP19

Poor countries are being left with little idea about what money is available to help them cope with climate change because of murky accounting and a lack of transparency by rich countries, according to Oxfam.

Oxfam has looked at how much money the biggest climate finance contributors have committed between 2013 - the end of the Fast Start Finance period - and 2015. United Nations Climate Change talks (COP19) begin in Poland today and climate finance is an important issue on the agenda.

Rich countries must make it clear to poor countries what money is available now and in the coming years to help them adapt to climate change and reduce their emissions”, said Oxfam’s Climate spokesperson, Kelly Dent. “Uncertainty from one year to the next makes it impossible for vulnerable countries to take the action they need to protect their citizens. This murkiness will only heighten distrust around the negotiating table.”

Oxfam found that:

  • 24 developed countries have still not confirmed their climate finance for this year. For 2014 the situation is even worse as countries which together provided 81% of Fast Start Finance, have still not announced any figures. Just one country, the UK, has announced its plans for climate finance in 2015.
  • Oxfam estimates that the total climate finance contributions claimed by developed countries in 2013 amounts to $16.3bn, though the actual net budget allocations may be closer to $7.6bn as some countries have counted loans that will be repaid to them. Only $8.3bn has been formally announced at the UN climate change negotiations, and many questions marks over the figures remain especially as countries now include contributions that weren't counted during the Fast Start period.
  • $7.6bn - $16.3bn is well below even the lowest estimate of what it is going to cost developing countries to adapt to climate change, which ranges from $27 billion to well over $100 billion. By comparison, developed countries spent $55-90 billion a year during 2005 -2011 on fossil fuel subsidies; the Netherlands is spending €1 billion to protect its low-lands from flooding; and Australia will spend $12 billion till 2018 on adapting to domestic water stress.
  • It is impossible to say how this year’s commitments compare to previous years because the accounting methods involved are so complex and opaque - however for most countries finance levels appear to have either plateaued (e.g. the Netherlands) or decreased (e.g. Sweden).
  • Rather than being additional money for climate action, much of what is being counted has instead been redirected from overseas aid budgets, or climate-related development aid which is not principally focused on climate action.

Only the US, European Union, Japan and New Zealand adhered to last year’s agreement to say how they will increase funding to reach their share of the $100 billion a year promised by 2020. However, their submissions raise more questions than they answer and fail to provide reassurance that the $100bn will ever materialize.

Dent said; ““The rich are protecting their own back-yards while continuing to invest heavily in polluting energies which is fuelling climate change.

Greater transparency, accountability and a plan that sets out how countries will increase funding is essential. Rich countries cannot be allowed to kick this vital issue down the road again. If they do, it will mean more hungry people, more damaging climate change emissions, and a further breakdown in trust that could bury hopes for a global climate deal in 2015.”

Notes to editors

** The information provided in Oxfam’s briefing ‘After the Fast Start: Climate finance in 2013 and beyond’ looks at developed countries that made announcements in Doha or have been key providers of fast start finance between 2010-2012.

** Figures supplied are based on what is known at the time of publication.

** Follow Oxfam at the climate talks at @oxfamatcop and @Oxfam

Contact information

** To arrange interviews with an Oxfam spokesperson available in Warsaw please contact:

Georgette Thomas, Oxfam Press Officer, gthomas@oxfam.org.uk, +44 (0)7824 503108 @georgetteginn (in Warsaw from Saturday 9th – Tuesday 12th November)

Anna Ratcliff, Oxfam Press Officer,  +44 (0) 7796 993 288
anna.ratcliff@oxfaminternational.org, @anna_ratcliff1 (in Warsaw from Tuesday 19th November – Saturday 23th November)