The Future is Equal

Climate finance action plan can set table for Paris deal, says Oxfam

All countries must use the COP 20 Summit in Lima to resolve the impasse over “climate finance,” and make success possible at the critical Paris talks in December 2015. We also have a new report, “Breaking the Standoff” that details how current pledges are out of step with the magnitude of need in developing countries.

Lima, Peru – All countries must use the COP 20 Summit in Lima to resolve the impasse over “climate finance,” and make success possible at the critical Paris talks in December 2015, says international aid agency Oxfam.

In a new report, “Breaking the Standoff”, Oxfam details how current pledges are out of step with the magnitude of need in developing countries and calls on world leaders to outline a robust new strategy to boost climate finance. Developed countries promised to mobilise US$100 billion per year in climate finance by 2020, but headway in mobilising that funding has been slow.

If progress is made on climate finance, the clean development that poor countries can achieve could be spectacular. Ethiopia could lift millions of people out of poverty while avoiding annual carbon emissions to the equivalent of 65 coal-fired plants. Peru could increase its GDP by nearly 1% more than business as usual while halving its emissions at the same time. Indonesia could fulfill its plan to cut emissions by 41% in 15 years.

However, the US$100 billion climate promise can only be the start. Sub-Saharan African countries alone, for example, will need US$62 billion per year to invest in climate adaptation. An effective climate policy regime will also unlock hundreds of billions more in private investments and move the world onto a low-carbon path that keeps warming below 2°C.

A key reason for the gap between current climate investments and climate needs is that donor countries have managed to avoid accountability for their fair shares. Too few details have been agreed by negotiators about how financial flows will be mobilised, which countries will mobilise them and which countries will receive them. This has undermined developing countries’ ability to create effective plans for their adaptation and mitigation needs.

“The US$100 billion promise is an iconic reference point in global climate negotiations. Countries have haggled over it for years. But for people on the front lines of the climate crisis, this abstract number has made little to no difference in their lives,” said Oxfam New Zealand Policy Advisor Luke Roughton.

“The COP20 Summit in Lima will set the stage for success or failure in Paris. We need clear commitments of climate finance, focused on what developing countries actually need,” Roughton said. “Vague promises won’t help people to adapt to the harmful effects of climate change, or help countries to pursue cleaner paths to growth and development.”

Oxfam’s report offers a blueprint for progress on climate finance in Lima, showing that it is possible to protect the world’s poorest people from the worst impacts of climate change, unlock significant economic growth, and slash emissions. The blueprint shows how a Paris agreement must:

1. Set out exactly how climate finance should be accessed and spent

2. Identify new sources of public and private finance

3. Establish a “fair shares” framework to mobilise the necessary financial flows and direct them to the right places

Oxfam’s calculation of country “fair shares” estimates that the US would be responsible for mobilising 56% of financial flows to shift the world onto a low-carbon path during the first commitment period of the new agreement followed by 22% from the EU and 10% from Japan. When it comes to adaptation Oxfam identifies new countries that should become climate finance contributors including Russia, Brazil, the Republic of Korea and Mexico. Oxfam’s blueprint shows the level of specificity negotiators need to address in Lima and Paris to seal a deal.

Following this year from the Ban Ki Moon Climate Summit and the Green Climate Fund pledging conference, COP 20 is the most significant negotiation before the Paris talks. Recent political announcements, including a deal between China and the US on promised emissions cuts, have offered new political momentum to the negotiations.

A large portion of climate finance is expected to be channelled through the Green Climate Fund. Its mandate is to support developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, preparing for the unavoidable impacts of climate change and growing in a sustainable way. Two weeks before COP 20 the fund reached the bare minimum level of initial capitalisation it needs to get off the ground with pledges totalling just under US$10 billion so far. Several countries are yet to pledge, including Australia and Austria, Ireland and Belgium.

“Millions of people came together in New York and other cities around the world in September to demand action on climate change. They understand that action on climate means new green jobs, secure food supplies, and a future for all,” said Roughton. “Now is the time for our leaders to step up and lead.

“These talks are not the endpoint. They are milestones on a journey that will take decades. But the talks in Lima can – and must put us on the right track for Paris and beyond.”