The United Nations’ climate conference in Marrakech made it clear that the Paris Agreement is here to stay, but otherwise, did little to fix the Agreement’s biggest flaws that leave poor and climate-vulnerable countries in danger, said Oxfam.
Isabel Kreisler, Oxfam International’s climate change policy lead said: “This was billed as a conference for action and implementation of the Paris Agreement. Instead, we saw a stubborn refusal from developed country ministers and negotiators to fill the adaptation finance gap and face the fact that the Agreement doesn’t fully protect lives that will suffer the most from climate change.”
Last year’s Agreement failed to specify just how much of climate finance for developing countries should go towards adaptation efforts, simply saying it should be in “balance” with funds for helping them cut their greenhouse gas emissions. As Oxfam and others have showed, the reality is much different.
The Marrakech negotiations welcomed the “submission” of the Roadmap that donor countries produced, which projects that by 2020, a mere 20% of the climate finance pot would come from public funds towards adaptation. By pushing this outcome, ministers from donor countries have showed that they’re comfortable with this huge imbalance.
"Adaptation finance is not just an abstract numbers game. It’s about providing women farmers in Africa with seeds to plant drought-resistant crops and feed their families; it’s about building seawalls so millions who live in coastal areas survive rising sea levels,” said Kreisler. “Developing countries are doing their fair share. The Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of forty-seven countries most at risk, announced their commitment to 100 percent renewable energy. We need developed countries to live up to their end of the bargain.”
Worryingly, the world is still on track for more than 3 degrees Celsius of warming, completely blowing past the Paris Agreement’s ambition to limit it to 1.5 degrees. With the Marrakech negotiations doing little to increase countries’ proposed 2020 emission cut targets, the 1.5 degree goal is in danger of becoming out of reach.
The results of the United States’ presidential election cast a shadow over the negotiations, causing rumors to swirl over whether President-elect Donald Trump would honor the Paris Agreement.
Despite that uncertainty, Oxfam saw sign after sign that the rest of the world remains committed to the fight. In the last two weeks, several more countries ratified the Agreement, and in speeches, key leaders described it as “irreversible” and “unstoppable.” On the second-to-last day, all countries signed the “Marrakech Action Proclamation,” reaffirming their commitment to combating climate change and to “inspire solidarity, hope, and opportunity for current and future generations.”
This real and palpable momentum makes the negotiations’ lack of progress in securing the needed climate adaptation funds and deepening emission cuts even more disconcerting.
The presidency of the COP passes now to Fiji, whose prime minister spoke strongly about the “terrifying new era” that his country is in due to climate change.
“The Paris Agreement was undoubtedly historic, but millions of people facing extreme and erratic weather can’t afford to keep waiting. Oxfam hopes the 'Pacific COP' in 2017 focuses the world's attention on the risk that small islands in the Pacific and elsewhere face, and truly delivers the actions and support needed by climate-vulnerable people everywhere,” said Kreisler.