China talks must focus on the climate finance winnables

Published: 2nd October 2010

World leaders could make significant progress toward a climate fund for developing countries when the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNCCC) resumes talks in Tianjin , China next week (4-9 October).

"There is still a lot to play for in Cancun when the UNFCCC meet again later this year," said Kelly Dent, Senior Climate Change Advisor for Oxfam. "Establishing a climate fund that helps the world's poorest men and women adapt to a changing climate will save lives and could help salvage hopes for a global deal. It must be the number one priority in China."

World leaders have promised to establish a new climate fund and rich countries pledged $100 billion per year to help poor countries tackle climate change. But these promises remain to be delivered. Climate finance is one of a handful of issues where progress is possible by Cancun. Getting an agreement will help rebuild trust in the talks and pave the way to the fair ambitious and binding deal that the world urgently needs.

"Negotiators in Tianjin don't need to go far to see what climate change is doing to the lives of the world's poorest people. Millions of poor Chinese are already struggling to feed their families because of increasingly unpredictable weather. There are millions more like them across the world and they need help to adapt," said Dent.

China is home to 20 per cent of the world's poor people and is one of the countries most at risk from a changing climate. According to the Beijing climate center, extreme weather events have increased in recent years. Earlier this year, almost 20 million people in south-west China were left without adequate water supplies as a result of the worst drought in a century. In June, 800,000 people were displaced and around 1.24 million acres of farmland were flooded after torrential rain led to the worst floods in a decade.

The Tianjin Climate Change Conference is the first time that a Chinese city will host a UN international meeting on climate change. It is the last week of talks before Ministers gather for a Climate Summit in Cancun, Mexico in November and December.

As a major emerging economy China is responsible for a growing share of global emissions but is also the world's biggest investor in green growth:

  • China is the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide but its per capita emissions are less than a quarter those of the US
  • China accounts for nearly three-quarters of the net global growth in energy consumption but was the largest investor in green energy in 2009. The Chinese government dedicated one-third of its economic stimulus package (US$221billion) to infrastructure that will promote energy efficiency, making it the largest green stimulus package in the world.

Oxfam is calling on world leaders to make good on their promise to establish a new $100 billion Climate Fund in Mexico and to ensure that funds start flowing by 2013 to poor and vulnerable communities.

Cancun must also outline a process for deciding how this climate finance should be raised. A significant proportion of this money should come from innovative sources such as charges on pollution from the global shipping and aviation industries or a Robin Hood Tax on the banking sector. "These could raise billions without putting the squeeze on tax payers," Dent said.

More information

Oxfam Climate Change campaign

How can poor countries adapt to a changing climate?

Read the report - Climate Finance Post-Copenhagen: The $100 billion questions

The Robin Hood Tax

Establishing a climate fund that helps the world's poorest men and women adapt to a changing climate will save lives.
Kelly Dent
Senior Climate Change Advisor for Oxfam

Contact information

Thomas Lau, Media Lead,

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