Rich countries provided 20% of funds for Copenhagen finance goal - scaling up is vital for Paris

Published: 28th June 2015

The chance of a successful Paris climate deal depends on rich countries showing they have kept their past commitments, especially the promise they made in Copenhagen to jointly mobilize $100bn of climate financing per year by 2020, warned Oxfam today. The global organization urged swift action to boost funds available for developing countries to adapt to the changing climate, as ministers and leaders head to New York for the United Nation’s General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Climate Change.

Oxfam estimates that currently less than $20bn per year in public finance is flowing to developing countries dedicated for climate action, meaning a climate finance gap of at least $80bn still to bridge by 2020. The French Presidency of COP21 is aiming to make progress on this issue before Paris, and G7 leaders this month reaffirmed their commitment to meeting the goal. 

“If rich countries can show they are making good on their $100bn promise, there will be a much stronger foundation of trust for the Paris talks,” said Tim Gore, Oxfam's international climate adviser. "Accounting trickery isn’t going to cut it – we need to see real funding increases beyond current levels. German Chancellor Merkel has shown the way by committing to double German public climate finance by 2020, and now others must follow suit.” 

Oxfam estimates that only around $2.5-4.5bn of the current annual investments (less than 20%) is flowing to adaptation efforts, which has consistently received only a minor share of climate finance flows. The recent UNEP estimate of adaptation costs in developing countries suggested that at least $50bn per year will be needed by 2030 in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) alone, and around $150bn per year in all developing countries.

Oxfam also estimates that countries in sub-Saharan Africa are collectively spending around $5bn annually from their own budgets to adapt to climate change - far more than they receive from international sources in climate finance. This includes Tanzania, which is spending approximately three times more on adaptation per year than they received during the three years of so-called "Fast Start Finance" following the Copenhagen climate summit from 2010-12, or Ethiopia, which is spending approximately double what the country received during the same three year period.

“Developing countries are not just waiting for hand-outs, they are already investing significant sums from their own scarce budgets in adapting to climate change, but they need international support to meet escalating needs,” continued Gore. “It's time countries who have done most to cause the climate crisis pay up for those who are paying its price.”

Ahead of Paris, rich country leaders must make clear commitments on how to close the funding gap by 2020. Many developing countries maintain that the majority of the $100bn should be provided by rich countries from their public budgets, with a smaller share mobilised from the private sector. Recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel showed the way by committing to a doubling of German public climate finance by 2020. Oxfam cautioned that such increases should not come only from mainstreaming climate action into current aid spending, but that overall levels of public finance should be increased to meet the additional costs of climate change.

“We need a credible ‘Roadmap to $100bn’ that really boosts support for adaptation, not just putting new labels on old bottles,” said Gore. “Climate change adds new costs to the fight to end poverty, but investing today in adaptation to climate change is the smartest defense against the costs of tomorrow's climate disruption."

Notes to editors

For further details on the Oxfam estimates, please read:

The UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Climate Change takes place on 29 June at UN Headquarters in New York. More information is available on the United Nations' website. 

Contact information

 Laura Rusu, in Washington D.C. - +1 202-459-3739 / For updates, please follow @Oxfam.