Rich nations put to shame by those worst hit by climate change

Bold attempts to prevent climate change forcing millions more people into poverty have been undermined by wealthier nations at the 24th UN Climate Change Conference, Oxfam said today.

At the talks, which stalled for days in Poland, leaders from nations on the frontlines of the climate crisis and young climate activists made strong demands for all states to immediately strengthen commitments to the Paris Agreement. But a woeful lack of courage by rich nations with the highest carbon emissions meant the outcome failed to match the urgency of these demands.

Simon Bradshaw, Climate Change Advisor for Oxfam Australia said: “The leadership vacuum from those with the responsibility and power to prevent suffering from climate change on a terrifying scale is shameful. We are standing with leaders from the Pacific and other vulnerable regions, communities taking their survival into their own hands, children who will have to inherit this increasingly hostile planet, and all those leading the fight for climate justice.”  

The shocking findings of the recent IPCC report laid bare how global warming above 1.5°C will be extremely dangerous to us all, but would mean life or death for many of the world’s poorest people. Limiting warming to 1.5°C means up to 420 million fewer people exposed to extreme heat waves, up to 39 per cent fewer people suffering from drought, up to 457 million fewer people forced to live in poverty.

“We needed giant strides towards limiting the impact of global warming this week, but what we got was more baby steps. It is way past time that countries who have the greatest responsibility for global warming stepped up to the plate,” Bradshaw added.

In one positive move forwards, governments agreed to a landmark set of recommendations to ensure rights and solutions for people displaced - or at risk of being displaced - due to climate change. But despite this, without far stronger efforts to drive down emissions, tens or hundreds of millions more people face being forced from their land and homes.

Agreements to include the loss and damage caused by climate change as part of the five-yearly global stocktake of progress, a key part of the Paris Agreement, were made. But the summit outcome failed to include concrete commitments to raise the billions of dollars of additional funding needed to cover the costs of these losses - a matter of critical importance to vulnerable communities around the world.

Weak agreements on how funding to support climate action in developing countries should be accounted for means donors can continue to report loans at face value and burden vulnerable countries with debts. Overall, the outcome on climate finance gives little confidence that additional and adequate support is going to reach those who need it most.

“Enough is enough - if we are to continue to have hope that this negotiation process can deliver the change needed to save millions of lives then governments need to return home,  from Poland, follow the lead of the world’s most vulnerable nations, and immediately begin strengthening their commitments. No more talking, no more delays - every month wasted is risking increasing dangers and hardships for communities around the world,” said Bradshaw.

Contact information: 

Kate Wiggans +44 7890131322

Simon Bradshaw +61 404 859 806

Follow us @Oxfam