The Future is Equal

Oxfam reaction to IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report

Responding to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), Oxfam Aotearoa Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier said:  

“Amid a world in parts burning, in parts drowning and in parts starving, the IPCC today tables the most compelling wake-up call yet for global industry to switch from oil, gas, coal and intensive agriculture to renewables and sustainable food production. Governments must use law to compel this urgent change. Citizens must use their own political power and behaviors to push big polluting corporations and governments in the right direction. There is no Plan B.  

“The world’s highest-level of political and scientific consensus, the IPCC, describes humanity’s slimmest chance to keep global warming to 1.5°C and avert planetary ruin. It sets the agenda for a make-or-break climate summit in Glasgow later this year. This report is yet more unimpeachable proof that climate change is happening now, and that global warming is already one of the most harmful drivers of worsening hunger and starvation, migration, poverty and inequality all over the world.   

“In recent years, with 1°C of global heating, there have been deadly cyclones in the Pacific and Central America, floods here in Aotearoa and Europe, huge locust swarms across Africa, and unprecedented heatwaves and wildfires across Australia and the US―all turbo-charged by climate change. Over the past 10 years, more people have been forced from their homes by extreme weather-related disasters than for any other single reason―20 million a year, or one person every two seconds. The number of climate-related disasters has tripled in 30 years. Since 2000, the UN estimates that 1.23 million people have died and 4.2 billion have been affected by droughts, floods and wildfires. Kiwis are no exception.  

“The richest one percent of people in the world, approximately 63 million people, are responsible for more than twice as much carbon pollution as the 3.1 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. The people with money and power will be able to buy some protection against the effects of global warming for longer than people without those privileges and resources ―but not forever. No one is safe. This report is clear that we are at the stage now when self-preservation is either a collective process or a failed one.   

“Global warming is a base factor behind all of today’s huge regressions in human development. The main perpetrators of global warming ―that is, rich countries like New Zealand that have reaped massive wealth by burning fossil fuels and intensifying agriculture― must be the ones to cut their emissions first, fastest and furthest. They must also pay their climate debt to developing countries by scaling up finance to help them adapt to the effects of climate change and transition to clean energy. Other major polluters don’t get a free pass and must also drastically cut emissions. The world has as much to gain in terms of human safety, development, opportunity and jobs by running a global economy on renewables and sustainable food production, as it has to lose in continuing dirty business-as-usual.  

“Very few nations ―and none of the world’s wealthy nations, New Zealand included― have submitted climate plans consistent with keeping warming below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C. If global emissions continue to increase, the 1.5°C threshold could be breached as early as the next decade. The IPCC report must spur governments to act together and build a fairer and greener global economy to ensure the world stays within 1.5°C of warming. They must cement this in Glasgow. Rich country governments must meet their $100 billion-a-year promise to help the poorest countries grapple with the climate crisis ―according to Oxfam, not only have they collectively failed to deliver on their promise, but New Zealand is one of the lowest contributors per capita, far below its fair share of the collective goal.”  



Extreme weather-related disasters were the number one driver of internal displacement over the last decade, forcing more than 20 million people a year ―one person every two seconds― to leave their homes. For more information, download Oxfam’s briefing Forced from Home.  

According to the UN, a sharp rise in the number of droughts, floods and wildfires has claimed 1.23 million lives and affected 4.2 billion people since 2000.  

The richest one percent were responsible for 15 percent of emissions added to the atmosphere between 1990 and 2015 ―more than all the citizens of the EU and more than twice that of the poorest half of humanity (7 percent). The richest 10 percent accounted for over half (52 percent) of emissions during this time. For more information, download Oxfam’s report Confronting Carbon Inequality. New Zealanders’ carbon footprint is more than 13 times that of the global poorest 50% (9.3 vs 0.69 tCO2/year)  

Oxfam’s Climate Finance Shadow Report 2020 offers an assessment of progress towards the USD100 billion goal. It considers how climate finance is being counted and spent, where it is going, how close we are to the USD100 billion goal, and what lessons need to be learned for climate finance post-2020. Oxfam Aotearoa’s Standing with the Frontlines 2020 report outlines New Zealand’s fair share of the USD 100 billion goal.  

Oxfam recently reported that there has been a six-fold increase in people suffering famine-like conditions since pandemic began.  

Oxfam supports a range of climate projects across the world, and works with local communities most impacted by the climate crisis. For example, we are helping rural farming communities in Timor-Leste earn a decent income, pioneering a cash transfer program in Vanuatu that uses blockchain to provide quick and targeted support to households worst hit by cyclones, and connecting civil society organisations in Solomon Islands to ensure that climate adaptation funds reach those who need it most.