The Future is Equal


Closing Time report: NGOs and unions unite behind call for urgent phaseout of fossil fuel production in Aotearoa

While the Government plans new oil and gas exploration, Oxfam Aotearoa has published a new report saying it’s time to close the industry down for good.

Released on COP28’s Just Transition Day, ‘Closing Time’ shows how fossil fuel expansion would put New Zealand out of step with climate science and at risk of embarrassment amongst our diplomatic allies. But, the report says, there’s another option – a just transition and a full, fast, fair and funded phaseout of fossil fuels.

The report’s endorsers include the Council of Trade Unions, Greenpeace, WWF-New Zealand, ActionStation, 350 Aotearoa, Generation Zero, Parents for Climate Aotearoa, OraTaiao, Coal Action Network Aotearoa, the PSA, Common Grace Aotearoa, Protect Our Winters, ECO, Environment Hubs Aotearoa, Climate Action Network Australia, Pacific Islands Climate Action Network, and Oxfam in the Pacific.

Report author and Oxfam Aotearoa Climate Justice Lead Nick Henry says:

“Our report shows that right now in Aotearoa, our oil and gas production is already declining at the rate we need to do an average share of the global phaseout needed for 1.5 degrees. To do our fair share we need to move faster, closing existing fields early. Keeping the course for 1.5 degrees is critical for our Pacific family who are feeling the impacts of climate change first and worst.

“New Zealand has a unique opportunity to show global leadership here. Unlike many countries that still rely heavily on fossil fuels, we export most of the fossil fuels we produce – and with a clear just transition plan and investment, most of the rest could be quickly replaced with renewables. We absolutely can and should have a full, fast, fair and funded transition away from fossil fuel production in Aotearoa.

“The Government’s plans to overturn our ban on offshore exploration would be a costly mistake that would harm New Zealand’s international reputation and put our economy on the wrong track – with disastrous outcomes for our communities, our environment, and our climate. They also make us look hypocritical.

“Less than a month ago, New Zealand signed on to a declaration at the Pacific Islands Forum that said we were “committed to the transition away from coal, oil and gas in our energy systems”, and agreed we’d “aspire to a Just and Equitable Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific.”

“So, it’s worrying to see the Government getting ready to roll the welcome mat back out to the fossil fuel industry, with promises of a new oil and gas boom – not to mention digging ourselves into a hole with the suggestion of new coal mining.

“Instead, our Government could be playing an active role in scaling up renewables and planning a just transition.

“Ultimately, global fossil fuel phaseout needs to be just that, global. We all have to do our bit, and the science tells us there’s no room for any country to go looking for new fossil fuels to exploit. While we might be a small country, we can have a disproportionate influence – we need to use that influence to stand strong with our Pacific family, not to keep serving polluting punters when it’s past closing time.”

The new report also reveals:

· Globally, the oil and gas in currently active fields would take us past 1.5 degrees of global warming. 58% of the fossil fuels in currently developed fields and mines must stay in the ground to keep within 1.5 degrees.

· New Zealand’s fossil fuel exports are small but cause disproportionate harm. Coal and oil combined made up only 1% of New Zealand’s exports in 2022 but produced emissions equivalent to more than 9% of the rest of our economy.

· Delaying the transition will only add to the problem of stranded assets and increase costs, including disruption to workers and communities.

· Getting our electricity grid off fossil gas must be a top priority for Government, as it’s the only remaining connection between fossil fuel production and energy security in Aotearoa (with all oil and most coal being exported).

Comments from endorsing organisations:

Alva Feldmeier, Executive Director of 350 Aotearoa

“Oxfam’s report comes at a critical time to remind the incoming Government of the need for a Just Transition away from fossil fuels and the importance of keeping to the 100% renewable electricity target set by the previous government. The report highlights how important the government’s role is in ensuring that the just transition is serving workers, the communities impacted by the extractive industries as well as the climate and wellbeing of all New Zealanders.

“Political election promises and populist politics cannot be used to jeopardise the future of the Pacific Islands and generations to come. The climate movement will fight tooth and nail to keep the ban on new offshore oil and gas permits in place and demand further action from the Govt to usher in the era of community-led Renewable Energy.”

India Logan-Riley, Climate Justice Organiser at ActionStation

“This report draws attention to the colonisation of Indigenous peoples, the commodification of Indigenous lands, and the carbonisation of our atmosphere. It sketches out the relationship where these injustices, the exploitation of workers, and the destruction of nature, are dispossessing a future for the generations that come. It aptly names this the fossil economy.

“And importantly, the report offers much-needed details and stepping stones in a just transition for everyone in the fullness of Te Tiriti.”

Glen Klatovsky, Chief Executive Officer of Climate Action Network Australia

“In Australia we have seen the devastation of the fossil fuel industry. Our nation is experiencing catastrophic climate impacts while contributing massively to the cause. All nations like ours must stop fuelling the fire. No more coal, no more gas, no more oil.”

Tim Jones, Coal Action Network Aotearoa

“An urgent just transition from coal, oil and gas use is essential. We must not go backwards, and this report provides a clear, evidence-based path that Aotearoa can follow.”

Richard Wagstaff, Secretary of the Council of Trade Unions

“Delivering a just transition for New Zealand, away from fossil fuels while maintaining great jobs across Aotearoa, will also help shift us towards a more productive, sustainable, and inclusive economy and society. New Zealand has a great image around the world for being a clean and green nation, one that cares for its environment and its future. It’s time to make that rhetoric a reality.”

Cath Wallace, Vice Chair of ECO

“ECO welcome the analysis in this report that the best way forward from our climate crisis and dependence on fossil fuels is to establish an economic system that is more considerate of environmental consequences and harms to people. We agree that the science is clear that an early end to fossil fuels extraction and use is essential.

“The report illuminates the structural problems Aotearoa New Zealand faces with the economic model and the injustices that we have inherited. Allowing further oil and gas exploration and exploitation will not only cost us dearly but lead to a huge burden of stranded assets, liability for the government and taxpayers for unabated emissions, and ongoing harm from climate destabilisation. The government must govern for all and resist the fossil fuel vested interests.

“Encouragingly, this report suggests a more environmentally focused policy within the foundations of the country and Te Tiriti will save environmental harms, reduce greenhouse emissions and the costs they incur, and provide greater justice.

“Importantly, the government needs to recognise that any fossil fuels future will mean New Zealand will have to pay dearly for emissions we allow and do not abate with his financial, social and biodiversity costs.”

Georgina Morrison, Executive Officer of Environment Hubs Aotearoa:

“Aotearoa New Zealand will be further harming its people and environment if we don’t urgently switch to more sustainable energy sources. Phasing fossil fuels out is paramount to meet our emissions targets and to protect our people and environment from even worse climate-related events”.

OraTaiao – New Zealand Climate and Health Council

“OraTaiao strongly supports a rapid phaseout in fossil fuel production in Aotearoa New Zealand and globally. The health benefits that will accrue from a well-designed switch away from fossil fuel use, such as improved air quality and reduced physical inactivity, will be additional to the harm avoided by limiting global heating to 1.5deg C. Known global fossil fuel reserves are in excess of what we can use if we are to keep to our climate obligations and there is absolutely and categorically no place for reopening offshore fossil fuel exploration in Aotearoa New Zealand’s waters. A sustainable, healthy and equitable future does not have fossil fuels as a part of it.”

Alicia Hall, Founder and National Co-Coordinator of Parents for Climate Aotearoa

“Parents for Climate Aotearoa strongly endorse ‘Closing Time’. Around the world and here in Aotearoa, countless whānau are struggling in a cost of living crisis and are deeply concerned about climate change. Some of these families are also dependent on employment in fossil fuel industries. Phasing out fossil fuels is crucial to ensuring our tamariki thrive in a safe and healthy climate – and a Just Transition will ensure we can make this change in a way that looks after these families and isn’t detrimental to their wellbeing.”

Marian Krogh, Lead Advocate at Protect Our Winters:

“The burning of fossil fuels right now is resulting in shorter winters, causing glaciers in Aotearoa and worldwide to melt, and for mountain town economies to struggle. Fossil fuel exploration is ruining our climate, winters, glaciers, and mountain towns for future generations. How can we achieve our climate reductions agreed in the Paris accord if we keep mining fossil fuels? We can’t. We already have plenty of fossil fuel reserves that can’t be burned. Aotearoa’s outdoor community says no to further exploration for oil, gas, and coal. A full, fast, fair, and funded phase out of fossil fuels is needed, alongside a just transition to renewable energy.”

Dr Kayla Kingdon-Bebb, Chief Executive Officer of WWF-New Zealand

“The Government owes it to all New Zealanders – and our neighbours in the Pacific who are on the frontline of the impacts of climate change – to consign fossil fuels to history and accelerate a just transition to renewable energy.

“Overturning New Zealand’s ban on new offshore oil and gas will not only hamper New Zealand in our efforts to meet our climate commitments, but it will pose significant risk to our relationships in the Pacific, our status as an export nation, and to our international credibility more broadly.”


Click here to read the full report:

Unfair share report: Unequal climate finance to East Africa hunger crisis

Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan have incurred $7.4bn of livestock losses alone as a result of climate change

Despite being largely responsible for the worsening climate crisis in East Africa, rich nations paid Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan just $2.4 billion in climate-related development finance in 2021, in stark contrast to the $53.3 billion East Africa says it needs annually to meet its 2030 climate goals.

Oxfam’sUnfair Share Report published today, shows that the biggest polluting nations have fallen short of meeting both the climate and the humanitarian funds East African countries need to recover from their climate-fuelled hunger crisis. It highlights the impact of climate change on the future of the region.

Oxfam in Africa Director, Fati N’Zi-Hassane said: “Even by their own generous accounts, polluting nations have delivered only pittance to help East Africa scale up their mitigation and adaptation efforts. Nearly half the funds (45%) they did give were loans, plunging the region further into more debt.”

A prolonged drought and erratic rainfalls have killed nearly 13 million animals, and decimated hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops, leaving millions of people without income or food. These four East African countries have incurred up to an estimated $30 billion of losses from 2021 to the end of 2023. Oxfam calculates that these countries also lost approximately $7.4 billion worth of livestock.

As a result, over 40 million people across the four countries are suffering severe hunger because of a two-year drought and years of flooding, compounded by displacement and conflict. Despite the soaring humanitarian need, rich nations have only met about one third of the UN appeal for East Africa this year.

“At the heart of East Africa’s hunger crisis is an abhorrent climate injustice. Rich polluting nations continue to rig the system by disregarding the billions owed to East Africa, while millions of people are left to starve from repeated climate shocks,” said N’Zi-Hassane.

Industrialised economies have significantly contributed to the climate crisis, which now disproportionally affects regions like East Africa. The G7 countries and Russia alone have been responsible for 85 percent of global emissions since 1850. This is 850 times the emissions of Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan combined.

“Global financial institutions are also complicit in contributing to the debt spiral that many developing countries are in. Onerous repayment cycles (to IFIs, bilateral and private creditors) prevent vulnerable countries from adapting to climate change or fully recovering from these consecutive shocks, like climate-fuelled hunger crises..”

Extreme weather, now more severe and frequent, is the primary driver of hunger in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and in part in South Sudan, where climate change has made the drought 100 times more likely.

“These pummelling shocks have depleted people’s reserves, leaving those already vulnerable with nothing to fend for themselves. Since the last drought in 2017, the number of people who need urgent aid across the four countries has more than doubled – from 20.7 million to 43.5 million,” said N’Zi-Hassane.

The climate crisis has taken its toll especially on women and girls. Women in Somalia told Oxfam they now have to walk more than four hours every day to fetch water, often in treacherous journeys – a significantly increased distance compared to previous droughts. Too often, when food is scarce, mothers eat last and least; and girls are the first to be dropped out of school or married off at a young age so there is one less mouth to feed.

Nimo Suleiman, a displaced mother of two from Somaliland, said “I have witnessed previous droughts but I have never seen anything like this before. The closest water point for us is five kilometers away, the road to the water point is not safe and very hot, but our family’s survival depends on us making that journey.”

“At the first African Climate Summit, Oxfam urges African leaders to speak up and hold rich polluting nations to account for this climate crisis. Rich nations must immediately inject funds to meet the $8.74 billion UN humanitarian needs for East Africa in order to save lives now,” N’Zi-Hassane said.

“It is equally crucial for the biggest polluters to pay their fair share of the money East Africa needs to strengthen its efforts to help its most vulnerable citizens prepare for the next climatic shock. These funds must be sustainable, in the form of grants rather than loans.”

“Leading up to COP28, African voices must be loud in demanding rich polluting nations to drastically cut their emissions, and to compensate East Africa for all their climate loss and damage so that the region can recover from these worsening climate shocks.”

Notes to the Editors

  • Read Oxfam’s “Unfair Share” report.
  • Oxfam is holding a roundtable at the African Climate Summit on 5 Sept .
  • The $2.4 billion figure is based on the OECD records of “Climate-related development finance” statistics reported figures in 2021 for Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan, which capture both bilateral and multilateral climate-related external development finance flows. For more detail on the OECD methodology please see the OECD Methodology note.
  • Out of the total $2.4 billion funds provided, only $1.33 billion were in the form of grants (54.5%) while $1.09 billion were in the form of loans (45%). Source: OECD
  • The figure $53.3 billion is the four countries identified annual needed funds for the period 2021 to 2030, in their “National Determined Contributions” (NDCs) to enable them to implement their climate goals under the Paris Agreement. It includes: $62 billion for Kenya, $316 billion for Ethiopia, $55.5 billion for Somalia and $100 billion for South Sudan.
  • According to the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the East Africa region’s average annual loss from climate change until 2030 is 2-4% of its annual GDP. For Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan, the total combined GDP in 2022 is $260 Billion.
  • Oxfam calculated livestock loss for Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia based on 2021 and 2023 estimates of the total government reported loss of 12.95 million heads of livestock – including 6.85 million livestock in Ethiopia, 2.6 million livestock in Kenya and 3.5 million livestock in Somalia. Ethiopia and Somalia have not provided an estimate of the value of the lost livestock. The approximate cost of per animal head in the region is $ 576.9, totalling $7.2 Billion for all 12.95 million livestock lost.
  • Food insecurity figures are based on IPC classification of the number of people in crisis or worse levels of food insecurity (IPC3+) for Ethiopia (11.8 million), Kenya (5.4 million), Somalia (6.5 million) and South Sudan (7.7 million).
  • Humanitarian need figures is based on the 2023 UN Humanitarian Response Plans for Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan and Kenya.
  • Humanitarian need figures for 2017 are based on 2017 Humanitarian Response Document for Ethiopia; Somalia and South Sudan , and the 2017 Flash Appeal for Kenya.

Contact Information

Rachel Schaevitz, Communication Manager,

Water dilemmas: The cascading impacts of water insecurity in a heating world

Climate-induced water insecurity poses one of the biggest threats to humanity and will lead to more hunger, disease and displacement

Oxfam water engineers are having to drill deeper, more expensive and harder-to-maintain water boreholes used by some of the poorest communities around the world, more often now only to find dry, depleted or polluted reservoirs.

Today, during World Water Week, Oxfam publishes the first of its series of reports, “Water Dilemmas”, about the growing water crisis, in large part driven by global heating from greenhouse gas emissions. The report describes how climate change will impact water security in different regions, leading to more hunger, disease and displacement.

Carlos Calderon, Humanitarian Advocacy and Partnerships Lead for Oxfam Aotearoa said, “This new Oxfam research is focused on the global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) situation, but it paints a picture that illustrates the complexity of elements that, combined, will continue to increasingly affect women, girls, boys and men in the decades to come. Changing weather, poverty, inequality, gender-based violence, political instability and conflicts are impacting the availability and quality of adequate water systems. All governments, particularly those from rich countries, should responsively take action at a global scale. The clock is ticking. Our children will judge us for our actions today, or for the lack of them.”

Nafkote Dabi, Oxfam Global Climate Justice Lead, said: “While global warming is being caused by oil, coal and gas, its harm is fundamentally being experienced as a global water crisis. This poses one of the biggest threats to humanity and will lead to more hunger, more disease and more displacement, especially for the countries and communities least prepared for climate change.”

Oxfam in Africa Water and Sanitation Lead, Betty Ojeny, who is working on the frontline of the drought response in East Africa, said: “One in five boreholes we dig now in the region I work, ends up dry or with water that is unfit for humans to drink. We have to dig deeper wells, through baked soils, which means more expensive breakages. This is happening at a time when donor funding for water is declining.”

“We’re having to use expensive desalination technologies that are sometimes glitchy, especially in the more hostile terrains where we have to work. We’re seeing climate change biting now and these problems are only going to get worse,” Ojeny said.

Ojeny works in Oxfam’s biggest current humanitarian response in East Africa where over 32 million people are facing acute hunger and starvation because of a five-season drought, made worse by conflict and poverty. Areas elsewhere in the same region are being hit by destructive flash floods and unpredictable rains, devastating people’s crops and livelihoods.

“Global warming is increasing the frequency and severity of disasters, including floods and droughts, which will be hitting countries harder and more often in years to come. The huge lack of investment in strengthening water systems is leaving countries open to catastrophe,” Dabi said.

The report found that by 2040, East Africa could be hit by an 8 percent rise in precipitation, with a cycle of floods and droughts leading to a potentially catastrophic 30 percent rise in surface runoff. This washes away nutrients from exhausted soils, and destroys infrastructure. It says 50-60 million more people could be at risk of malaria by 2030.

It says the West Africa region will suffer similar problems as a result of this water crisis. Both regions are facing 8-15% more intense heatwaves and falls in labour productivity by 11-15%, amid mass migration, rising poverty and hunger, crop changes and livestock loss, and more water-driven conflicts.  

“Already today, because of droughts, many of Oxfam’s installed water systems are rendered obsolete as pastoralist communities are forced to migrate to look for new pasturelands. This is undermining the communal management of water, which is key for sustainability and enhancing people’s resilience,” Ojeny said.

“In South Sudan we already see flooding washing away sanitation facilities and submerging boreholes, rendering them useless. More water-borne diseases like cholera are putting immense pressure not only on our water and sanitation work, and also stretching our public health operations too,” she said.

By contrast, the report says across the Middle East region by 2040, rainfall will decrease markedly instead, as will water levels and river runoff, sparking worsening food security. Heatwaves will rise by 16% leading to a drop in labour productivity of 7%, with water prices rising with the demand.

Countries across Asia meanwhile will be affected more by sea-level rise, potentially over half a meter by 2100. Along with surface run-off and glacier melt, this will affect fresh groundwater aquifers, especially in coastal areas where hundreds of millions of people live. The report also signals more heatwaves in Asia (8%) and a decline in labour productivity, by 7%, leading to more poverty and migration. It says diseases like malaria and dengue could rise by a staggering 183%.

All this will have knock-on effects on people’s food sources and productivity, fuelling hunger. Oxfam calculates that in 10 of the world’s worst climate hotspots, chronic hunger is projected to rise by a third in 2050 as a result of climate change – that is 11.3 million more people going hungry than without climate change – a landslide derailing of the UN’s “zero hunger” target. 

The reports says that decades of underinvestment in water systems, poor water management, and erosion, pollution and overuse of subterranean aquifers are worsening this water crisis. Millions of already disadvantaged people are now left ill-equipped to face the harmful consequences of the climate crisis. Only 32% of the $3.8 billion global UN humanitarian appeals for water and sanitation was funded last year and countries most at risk of water insecurity are failing to invest in water infrastructure.

“The worst scenarios that the world needed to avoid have already begun. Under today’s emissions trajectories, billions of people face no safe future in the worsening water crisis, happening under such political nonchalance. Rich polluting nations must immediately and drastically cut their emissions, and fund water infrastructure in poor communities.”

“We are still able to alter course toward safety if we choose, but we must act fast. Governments need to fundamentally refocus their attention and investment into our water systems as an absolute policy priority. They must urgently meet the UN’s $114 billion-a-year ambition for the water, sanitation and hygiene sector, which will save lives today and impact virtually every other UN goal for 2030,” Dabi said.

Contact details

Please contact:

Rachel Schaevitz | Communications Manager |

Carlos Calderon | Humanitarian Lead |

Notes to Editor:

  • Read Oxfam’s “Water Dilemmas” report. The report builds on existing scientific literature and climate models, along with witnessed and anecdotal evidence, to highlight the impacts of climate-driven water insecurity on food insecurity, conflicts, displacement and migration, gender inequality and disease in four regions (Asia; Middle East; West Africa; Horn, Eastern and Central Africa or HECA).
  • For decades Oxfam has supported millions of highly vulnerable people with life-saving water and sanitation systems, in partnership with authorities, local partners and communities around the world. Oxfam is a leading agency in the humanitarian and development water and sanitation sector.
  • Last year, Oxfam looked at 10 of the world’s worst climate hotspots – Somalia, Haiti, Djibouti, Kenya, Niger, Afghanistan, Guatemala, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, and Zimbabwe – which have repeatedly been battered by extreme weather over the last two decades – and found that their hunger more than doubled in just six years. The 10 worst climate hotspots were calculated looking at countries with the highest number of extreme weather-related UN appeals since 2000, where climate was classified as a “major contributor” to these appeals. Source: Oxfam’s “Footing the Bill” report May 2022 and Oxfam’s “Hunger in a Heating World” report Sept 2022.
  • Projections of the population at risk of hunger in the 10 countries by 2050 with and without climate change are from the International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) International Model for Policy Analysis of Commodities and Trade (IMPACT). Globally, IFPRI projects that about 70 million more people will be at risk of hunger because of climate change in 2050, including 28 million additional people in East and Southern Africa. Source: 2022 IFPRI Report: Climate Change and Food Systems
  • Only 32% of the $3.8 billion global humanitarian appeal for the WASH sector for 2022 was funded. Source: UN OCHA Financial Tracking Service.    
  • The UN SDG6 states that meeting the water, sanitation and hygiene 2030 target requires increasing progress six-fold
  • In East Africa, over 32 million people across Ethiopia (20.1 million), Kenya (5.4 million) and Somalia (6.6 million) are estimated to be experiencing crisis or worse levels of hunger. Source: Ethiopia’s Humanitarian Response Plan for 2023 , Kenya’s Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) March-May 2023 report, and Somalia’s IPC report April- June 2023

New Oxfam report shows broken promises on climate finance

A new report out this week titled ‘Climate Finance Shadow Report’ from Oxfam shows New Zealand still has much more to do to support poorer countries adapt and respond to the climate crisis.   

Oxfam Aotearoa’s Climate Justice Lead Nick Henry said:  

“Oxfam’s report reveals that as governments around the world begin negotiations of a new global goal for climate finance, rich countries have already broken their promise to deliver US$100 billion a year to assist developing countries.  

“The New Zealand Government is doing better than most on climate finance, but unfortunately the bar is very low. It is time for New Zealand to commit to increasing its climate finance and call on other rich countries to do the same. And deliver on their promises.  

“The new report reveals that globally only a quarter of climate finance is given as grants, meaning most climate finance is provided in the form of loans. Although the New Zealand Government has a long way to go in order to do its fair share, one positive take away is that New Zealand has a strong commitment to give climate finance as grants, not loans.  Loans only increases the burden on poorer countries as they take on expensive debt. Debt created from the failure of rich countries to deliver on their promises. 

“It is also encouraging to see New Zealand increasingly integrate gender-equitable approaches to climate finance, but the Government is a long way off from making sure that the needs of people in all their diversity are met. New Zealand must stand with our whānau in the Pacific – the women, girls, and LGBTIQA+ and others who are on the frontlines of the climate crisis. 

“Rich countries must find new ways to fund climate finance by taxing the wealthiest and the big polluters. In addition, Oxfam Aotearoa calls for new and additional finance to respond to loss and damage caused by climate change. This is a separate negotiation leading up to COP28, and should come with new funding.”  



Click here for the report:  

New Zealand’s current climate finance commitments end in 2025. Commitments for the next period from 2026 will need to contribute New Zealand’s fair share of the new global quantified goal on climate finance to be set at COP28 in December. Discussions on the process for setting the new global goal are underway this week in Bonn, at the intersessional meeting of parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. 

Rich countries’ continued failure to honour their US$100 billon climate finance promise threatens negotiations and undermines climate action

Rich countries’ continued failure to honor their $100 billon climate finance promise threatens negotiations and undermines climate action

As global greenhouse emissions continue to rise, and climate change wreaks more havoc upon the people and places least responsible for the problem, rich polluting countries are now three years overdue on their promise to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance for low- and middle-income countries.

To make matters worse, says Oxfam, the actual support they provide is much less than reported numbers suggest, and is coming mostly as debt that has to be repaid.

Oxfam’s ‘Climate Finance Shadow Report 2023’ published today shows that while donors claim to have mobilized $83.3 billion in 2020, the real value of their spending was —at most— $24.5 billion. The $83.3 billion claim is an overestimate because it includes projects where the climate objective has been overstated or as loans cited at their face value.

By providing loans rather than grants, these funds are even potentially harming rather than helping local communities, as they add to the debt burdens of already heavily indebted countries —even more so in this time of rising interest rates.

Donor countries are repurposing up to one-third of official aid contributions as climate finance rather than putting forward new and additional money, while more than half of all climate finance going to the world’s poorest countries is now coming as loans.

Among bilateral providers, France has the highest share of its bilateral public climate finance through loans, at a staggering 92 percent. Other loan-heavy culprits include Austria (71 percent), Japan (90 percent), and Spain (88 percent). In 2019–20, 90 percent of all climate finance provided by multilateral development banks, like the World Bank came as loans.

“This is deeply unjust. Rich countries are treating poorer countries with contempt. In doing so, they are fatally undermining crucial climate negotiations. They’re playing a dangerous game where we will all lose out,” said Oxfam International’s Climate Change Policy Lead, Nafkote Dabi.

In the lead up to the Bonn Climate Summit (5 to 15 June), Oxfam also finds that climate-related development financing is largely gender-blind. Only 2.9 percent of all funding identified gender equality as worth prioritizing. Only one-third of climate finance projects in 2019-2020 mainstreamed gender, meaning that they took into account both women and men’s specific needs, experiences and concerns.

Oxfam estimates that the real value of funds allocated by rich countries in 2020, to support climate action in low- and middle-income countries was between $21 billion and $24.5 billion, of which only $9.5 billion to $11.5 billion was directed specifically for climate adaptation —crucial funding for projects and processes to help climate-vulnerable countries address the worsening harms of climate change.

“Don’t be fooled into thinking $11.5 billion is anywhere near enough for low- and middle-income countries to help their people cope with more and bigger floods, hurricanes, firestorms, droughts and other terrible harms brought about by climate change,” Dabi said. “People in the US spend four times more than that each year feeding their cats and dogs.”

Oxfam is highly concerned that adaptation funding is given too little attention when, in the past three years, India, Pakistan and Central and South America have all seen record heatwaves, in Pakistan later followed by flooding that affected over 33 million people, while East Africa is mired in its worst drought in over 40 years, contributing to crisis levels of hunger.

“Despite their extreme vulnerability to climate impacts, the world’s poorest countries, particularly the least developed countries and small island developing states, are simply not receiving enough support. Instead, they are being driven deeper into debt,” Dabi said. 

The expectation that private investors can be mobilized by low- and middle-income countries to contribute a sizeable chunk of climate financing has not materialized, raising only $14 billion yearly, mainly for mitigation. Oxfam says it is difficult to find details on how this private finance is used or who benefits from it. According to a recent Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report, mobilized private adaptation financing rose sharply from $1.9 billion in 2018 to $4.4 billion in 2020, mainly because of a big liquefied natural gas energy project in Mozambique that does not reveal any adaptation activities.

Oxfam is highly concerned that funding for “loss and damage” —climate impacts that cannot or have not been mitigated or adapted to— still has no predictable place within the international climate finance architecture. Loss and damage finance needs are urgent, with estimates saying that low- and middle-income countries could face costs of up to $580 billion annually by 2030.

Oxfam says that ongoing deliberations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to set a new global goal on mobilizing climate finance from 2025 onwards is a chance to rebuild trust between rich and low- and middle-income countries. But if past mistakes are not resolved and simply repeated, this initiative will have failed before it properly starts.

Climate finance providers should be massively scaling-up their efforts and be reporting climate financing on a case-by-case basis, highlighting the actual proportions channeled towards mitigation and adaptation. There is equally an urgent need for more grant-based financing for climate action, and less momentum toward loaning the money they have all promised to give. 

Notes to editors 

Download Oxfam’s ‘Climate Finance Shadow Report 2023’.

In East Africa alone, drought and conflict have left a record 36 million people facing extreme hunger, nearly equivalent to the population of Canada. Oxfam estimates that up to two people are likely dying from hunger every minute in Ethiopia, Kenya Somalia, and South Sudan.

The UN currently designates 46 countries as LDCs.

According to the OECD, mobilized private adaptation financing rose sharply from $1.9 billion in 2018 to $4.4 billion in 2020, mainly because of a big liquefied natural gas energy project in Mozambique that does not reveal any adaptation activities.

According to Anil Markandya and Mikel González-Eguino (2018), the costs of loss and damage in low- and middle-income countries could reach between $290 billion to $580 billion a year by 2030.

According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent $58.1 billion on pet food and treats in 2022. 

Footing the Bill Report

800 percent increase in UN appeal needs for extreme weather-related emergencies – new Oxfam research.

The amount of money needed for UN humanitarian appeals involving extreme weather events like floods or drought is now eight times higher than 20 years ago — and donors are failing to keep up, reveals a new Oxfam brief today. For every US$2 needed for UN weather-related appeals, donor countries are only providing US$1.

Average annual extreme weather-related humanitarian funding appeals for 2000-2002 were at least US$1.6 billion and rose to an average US$15.5 billion in 2019-2021, an 819 percent increase.

Rich countries responsible for most of today’s climate change impacts have met only an estimated 54 percent of these appeals since 2017, leaving a shortfall of up to US$33 billion.

The countries with the most recurring appeals against extreme weather crises — over ten each — include Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan and Zimbabwe.

The report, Footing the Bill, says that the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events due to climate change is putting more pressure on an already over-stretched and underfunded humanitarian system. The costs of the destruction from these storms, droughts and floods are also increasing inequality; people in poorer communities and low-income countries are the worst hit yet they lack the systems and funding that wealthier countries have to cope with the effects. The richest one percent of people on Earth are emitting twice as much carbon pollution as the poorest half of humanity.

The UN appeals focus on the most urgent humanitarian needs, but that barely scratches the surface of the real costs in loss and damage that climate change is now wreaking on countries’ economies.

The economic cost of extreme weather events in 2021 alone was estimated to be US$329 billion globally, the third highest year on record. This is nearly double the total aid given by rich nations to the developing world that year.

The costs of loss and damage to low- and middle-income countries — for instance, the money needed to rebuild homes and hospitals or provide shelter, food and emergency cash transfers after a cyclone — could reach between US$290 billion and US$580 billion a year by 2030. This does not account for non-economic losses such as the loss of life, cultures and ways of living, and biodiversity.

UN appeals represent just a small part of the costs of climate disasters for people who are especially vulnerable and they only reach a fraction of the people who are suffering. Oxfam’s research shows that UN appeals cover only about 474 million of the estimated 3.9 billion people in low- and middle-income countries affected by extreme weather-related disasters since 2000, equivalent to one in eight people.

“Human activity has created a world 1.1˚C warmer than pre-industrial levels and we are now suffering the consequences. More alarming still, we will overshoot the 1.5˚C safety threshold on current projections. The cost of climate destruction will keep rising and our failure now to cut emissions will have catastrophic consequences for humanity. We can’t ignore the huge economic and non-economic losses and damages that underlie this picture — the loss of life, homes, schools, jobs, culture, land, Indigenous and local knowledge, and biodiversity,” said Oxfam Aotearoa Climate Campaign Lead Alex Johnston.

“This is the climate chaos we have long been warning about. Many countries that are being hardest-hit by climate change are already facing crises including conflict, food inflation, and the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is leading to rapidly rising inequality, mass displacement, hunger and poverty,” said Johnston.

Humanitarian disasters affect men differently than women, who face long-standing inequalities that undermine their ability to cope. Women’s rights and progress towards gender equity are threatened with every disaster. The UNDP estimates that 80 percent of people being displaced by climate change are women.

“Poor countries cannot be expected to foot the bill, and increasing aid — while helpful — is not alone the answer. Paying the cost of climate-driven loss and damages should be on the basis of responsibility — not charity. Rich countries, rich people and big corporations most responsible for causing climate change must pay for the harm they are causing,” said Johnston.

Rich and industrialised countries have contributed around 92 percent of excess historical emissions and 37 percent of current emissions. Africa’s current emissions stand at just 4 percent; The Pacific Islands account for only 0.03 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Ethiopia — where more than 24.4 million people now face severe levels of hunger and food insecurity — are together responsible for just 0.1 percent of current global emissions.

Rich industrialised nations have stymied loss and damage finance negotiations for years. At COP26 in Glasgow, they rejected developing countries’ calls for a new finance facility to address loss and damage and instead agreed to a three-year ‘Glasgow Dialogue’ to discuss future arrangements. “This just added insult to injury,” Johnston said.

Ahead of 56th sessions of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) in Germany, which includes the first ‘Glasgow Dialogue’ on loss and damage since COP26, Oxfam urges:

  • Rich country governments like Aotearoa New Zealand to pledge bilateral finance to address loss and damage, in addition to existing climate finance and ODA commitments.
  • All governments to agree to establish and fund a finance facility for loss and damage at COP27, with annual contributions based on responsibility for causing climate change and capacity to pay.
  • All governments to agree to make loss and damage a core element of the UNFCCC’s Gender Action Plan.



Photos and video from Burkina Faso are available for download.

Download Oxfam’s brief Footing the Bill and our methodology note.

See also Oxfam Aotearoa and Oxfam Australia’s 2021 report titled Breaking Through Red Lines which outlines the loss and damage implications across the Pacific, and also includes loss and damage Māori communities within Aotearoa are experiencing due to climate destruction. The Pacific Islands is responsible for just 0.03 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The countries with the most recurring appeals linked to extreme weather (Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Chad, Sudan and Zimbabwe) account for 1.4 percent of global emissions.

According to Aon, the total economic cost of extreme weather events in 2021 is estimated at US$329 billion globally, the third-highest year on record, behind 2017 and 2005.

Recent data from Oxfam shows that the wealthiest 1 percent of humanity are responsible for twice as many emissions as the poorest 50 percent, and that by 2030, their carbon footprints are in fact set to be 30 times greater than the level compatible with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.

Rich nations provided US$178.9 billion in official development assistance (ODA) in 2021. This is equivalent to 0.33 percent of donors’ combined gross national income (GNI) and still below the UN target of 0.7 percent ODA to GNI.

According to estimations by Markandya and González-Eguino, the estimated costs of loss and damage by 2030 range from US$290 billion to US$580 billion, and according to Climate Analytics from US$400 to US$431 billion.

One person is likely dying of hunger every 48 seconds in drought-ravaged Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.