40 per cent drop in climate change adaptation funding must prompt action at key meetings next week

A staggering 40 per cent drop in funding focused on climate change adaptation, revealed by the OECD yesterday, should prompt renewed action at the Ministerial Meeting on Mobilizing Climate Finance in Washington and meetings of EU climate experts in Brussels next week, international aid agency Oxfam said today.

As part of an assessment that shows significant cuts in development aid to poor nations, the OECD revealed that targeted funding for programs mainly focused on helping developing countries adapt to the effects of climate change fell in 2011 to $1.8 billion from $3.1 billion the year before, based on data reported by governments to the OECD.

The OECD has not released climate finance figures for 2012, but Oxfam’s research of funding suggests that levels of public climate finance did not improve last year. 

Oxfam International Climate Change Policy Lead David Waskow welcomed initiatives to fulfill climate finance commitments by Ministers attending the meeting hosted by the US from April 10 – 11, but said they must move beyond their stated focus of mobilizing of private climate finance, and address the shortfalls in public finance.

Waskow said: “Funding for climate change adaptation programs is dropping remarkably at a time when it needs to be scaled up in line with UN commitments and when developing countries are dealing with increasing impacts of extreme weather events.”

“Governments can’t leave it up to the private sector to fill this enormous adaptation funding shortfall. The private sector have mostly stayed away from funding some of the most important adaptation programs – which help people gain access to the water, food and basic services diminished by climate change – since they offer little or no short-term return on investment.

2011 saw a $700 million increase in funding for projects considered to provide ‘significant’ benefits to climate change adaptation.  However these projects were not principally focused on climate change, and Waskow said the increase could be due to a lack of rigorous international definitions for what constitutes a ‘climate change’ project.

At the 2009 Copenhagen talks, developed countries committed to provide climate finance balanced between adaption and emissions-mitigation programs, yet Oxfam analysis has shown that just 21 per cent of funds has gone to adaptation. OECD figures show that targeted funding principally for mitigation purposes also declined dramatically by 45 per cent in 2011.

The UK, Japan, Germany, Canada, EU, NZ, Denmark, France, Australia, Norway, Switzerland and Italy are expected to attend this meeting in Washington. EU experts for finance and environment are also due to discuss climate finance at separate meetings next week on from April 8 – 10.


Notes to editors

The OECD statistics with country breakdowns for climate finance spending are available here: http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=RIOMARKERS.

Contact information

For media enquiries, please contact Oxfam International Economic Justice Media Lead Sunita Bose on +1 650 353 1936 or sunita.bose@oxfaminternational.org