Climate funds bypass hardest hit, new global climate fund needed – Oxfam report

Published: 6th October 2010

Tianjin, China – The poorest people who need the most help to adapt to a changing climate are largely being bypassed by the small amount of climate funds now being disbursed, says a new Oxfam report published today at the UN climate change talks in Tianjin, China.

The report shows that negotiators must create a Global Climate Fund that vulnerable populations in poor countries can access so that they are not left behind in proposed climate solutions.
Oxfam’s report,Righting Two Wrongs: Making a New Global Climate Fund Work for Poor People,” brings together evidence, which shows that in recent years:

  • Less than a tenth of climate funds disbursed to date are estimated to have been for adaptation to help poor people in developing countries who are bearing the brunt of climate impacts.1
  • The world’s 49 poorest countries have received about one-eighth – $450 million out of $3.5 billion – of funding from the Global Environment Facility.2
  • Only $220 million has been donated to fund adaptation plans (known as NAPAs) in the Least Developed Countries – just one tenth of the $2 billion estimated total plan costs.3

Vulnerable populations in poor countries have been completely shut out the process so it’s no surprise that they are being overlooked when the checks are written,” said Kelly Dent, Senior Climate Change Advisor for Oxfam. “Negotiators need to learn from past mistakes and set up a new Global Climate Fund that is fairly governed, accountable and accessible to the groups, including women, who are on the front lines of climate change.”
Oxfam is calling for a new Global Climate Fund to be set up at the UN climate summit in Cancun in December to govern public funds pledged by developed nations under the Copenhagen Accord. This fund must help address the failure to get adequate climate investments to poor people who bear the brunt of climate change’s impacts. Progress on this fund is a key item for discussion in Tianjin and one of the essential ingredients for progress towards a binding climate deal.
“This is a race against time but we are running on a treadmill,” said Dent. “Setting up a Global Climate Fund that gives a voice and support to those facing the harshest climate impacts is one of the things that can get the talks moving this year.”

“For many people around the world, this has been a year from sheer hell. We’ve seen floods, droughts, fires, storms and other extreme weather events that will only get worse as climate change intensifies. Some of the poorest people in the world have seen their crops wiped out and livelihoods destroyed – but we still haven’t caught on to their needs,” said Dent. “Will we sow the seeds of resilience now or pay the price of failure later?”

“Righting Two Wrongs” calls for a new Global Climate Fund and broader finance system that is seen as legitimate by both developed and developing countries and that is representative, equitable, accountable, accessible, transparent and efficient. Poor governments must be able to directly access the fund and at least half of the money should be spent helping poor and vulnerable people adapt to a changing climate. In addition, a number of accountability measures are recommended, including ensuring that poor countries and women have an equal say in how the fund is managed and spent and that the fund is transparent as to where the money is going.

“The devil is in the detail but this is no small decision,” said Dent. “We need to see some clear options on the climate fund coming out of Tianjin to get to a decision in Cancun. The funds needed are on the same order of magnitude as current annual aid figures of around $120 billion a year. Getting it right is literally a question of life and death.”

Read more

Download the report: Righting two wrongs: Making a new Global Climate Fund work for poor people (pdf, 434kb)

Sow the Seed: how you can make a difference in three simple steps

Oxfam's Climate Change Campaign

Will we sow the seeds of resilience now or pay the price of failure later?
Kelly Dent
Senior Climate Change Advisor for Oxfam

Notes to editors

1. ODI and Heinrich Böll Stiftung, (2010) (
2. Oxfam analysis of GEF data on climate financing through the GEF Trust Funds, and the Least Developed Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Facility
3. National Adaptation Programs of Action (NAPA).  44 NAPAs have been submitted to date. Total costs of NAPAs for LDCs are estimated to be approximately $2 billion, but only $224 million has been pledged (as of June 2010)

Contact information

For more information and interviews with Oxfam’s climate change experts in Tianjin contact:
Thomas Lau, Media Lead,
Mobile in China +86 (0) 137 5210 5124 (in Tianjin from 2-11 Oct) or Hong Kong office 852 – 3120-5275  (please send emails rather than leave voice mails or send sms texts if unavailable on phone)