The Future is Equal

Climate change

Oxfam responds to New Zealand International Climate Finance Strategy – Tuia te Waka a Kiwa

In response to Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Climate Change Minister James Shaw’s Aotearoa New Zealand International Climate Finance Strategy – Tuia te Waka a Kiwa, Oxfam Aotearoa Communications and Advocacy Director Dr Jo Spratt said:

“This is a substantial piece of work that was well-consulted, carefully considered and provides a solid framework to guide significant investment from the New Zealand Government. We are pleased to see a Pacific-led approach that makes way for our Pacific whānau to build climate resilience on their own terms.

“We are also pleased to see the Government acknowledge that too often communities are not included in how climate finance is allocated, and Minister Mahuta and Minister Shaw’s willingness to make sure communities are able to benefit from it. It is good to see a focus on equity and inclusion for the people who are so often left out and left behind.

“It is excellent to see recognition of both the economic and non-economic costs of climate destruction that communities cannot adapt to and the willingness of Aotearoa to promote countries’ access to finance to address loss and damage. We look forward to engaging with the Government on this in the lead-up to COP27 where loss and damage will be a focus. Other mechanisms, not just mitigation and adaptation, will be necessary to address the unavoidable loss and damage people in the Pacific and beyond face every day.”

Oxfam reacts to Commission’s advice on the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme

Oxfam Aotearoa welcomes the latest advice from the Climate Change Commission to the Government calling for an urgent decision about how it will prioritise emissions reduction in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS). Oxfam Aotearoa Interim Executive Director Dr Jo Sprat said: 

“The Commission is on the right track: All sectors of Aotearoa’s economy, including agriculture, need to do their fair share in reducing climate pollution. 

“Aotearoa can’t just rely on planting permanent pine forests, or paying other countries to reduce emissions for us. The role of international carbon credits and carbon off-setting, including whether these will be integrated into the ETS or kept separate is as clear as mud. The Government must urgently provide clarity, just as the Commission recommends.  

“What also concerns us is how the Government will make sure human rights are upheld, including indigenous and community land rights. If it is not done right, using international credits as an alternative to reducing our own carbon emissions from industries like agriculture could do serious harm to communities – especially those on the frontlines, such as our Pacific friends and family who experience the worst impacts of climate destruction every day. 

“The Commission’s advice underscores the urgent need for a comprehensive plan for a just transition, in consultation with tangata whenua and all communities, to support a move to a less polluting and more equitable economy in Aotearoa. We couldn’t agree more. A just transition would make sure the rising cost of carbon pollution in the NZ ETS doesn’t unfairly fall on those least able to pay.” 

Pacific leaders’ endorsement for ICJ advisory opinion bid must spur global groundswell

Logos of climate organisations

The support from Pacific leaders for an advisory opinion on climate change from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is welcomed and must begin a global groundswell of support ahead of the UN General Assembly in September, The Civil Society Alliance Supporting an Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on Climate Change (CSO ICJAO Alliance) said.

Led by the Vanuatu Government, and supported by a global alliance of civil society groups representing more than 1,500 civil society organisations in 130 countries, the campaign for an ICJ advisory opinion is designed to provide an international legal framework for those experiencing the worst of the climate crisis to affect broad, accelerated change.

The campaign is in response to the human rights crisis caused by climate change, with hundreds of millions of people in vulnerable countries having their livelihoods, housing, food, water, sanitation, healthcare and the environment severely impacted. 

The decision to support the campaign comes following dedicated efforts from Pacific youth and civil society, who recently held a Pacific Solidarity Festival calling on Pacific leaders and family across Australia and New Zealand to back the cause.

 Vishal Prasad, Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change campaigner, said the endorsement from PIF leaders is a major step on the campaign’s voyage, which would help create a global groundswell.

“Pacific leaders have grasped the opportunity to help change the course of climate justice for the Pacific and around the world. 

“The Advisory Opinion Campaign is well on the way to becoming a reality. We invite people from around the world to join us on this journey, because while this initiative started in the Pacific it is truly a global campaign. All countries in the United Nations will have the opportunity to vote for climate justice this year, but now is the crucial time for them to come out and show their support.

“This is a major step on our shared journey to link the impacts of climate change with our fundamental human rights, and welcome recognition from Pacific leaders of those rights. Pacific livelihoods, health, culture and the environment are at serious risk, and we are hopeful about having recourse to change the course through an advisory opinion.

“Supporting the campaign for an ICJ advisory opinion costs nothing, but means everything to nations hit hardest by the climate crisis. This is an idea whose time has come.” 

Steph Hodgins-May, Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner, said support for the ICJ advisory campaign is welcomed, but must be part of a broader effort from Australia to mitigate the impacts of climate change. 

“Australia’s endorsement of the campaign for an advisory opinion on climate change from the ICJ is welcome, and demonstrates Australia is serious about both tackling the climate crisis, and strengthening its relationship with the Pacific.

“However, this endorsement cannot be viewed in isolation. To be a true Pacific family member, Australia must not only champion the journey towards climate justice through the campaign for an ICJ advisory opinion, but also pursue more ambitious climate action by committing to no new coal and gas projects.”

Rose Kulak, Amnesty International Australia campaigner, said:

“By giving endorsement, Australia can now step up and be a global leader in creating support for the upcoming vote in the UN General Assembly. A majority vote is needed at the UN before the ICJ can provide its advisory opinion on the human rights impact of climate change. We need Australia to champion this on the world stage.

“Climate change is a human rights crisis of unprecedented proportions, affecting health, food, water, housing, livelihoods and life itself. It is a threat to not only individuals but to entire cultures and peoples. This support from Pacific leaders for an ICJ advisory opinion is a crucial step in shaping climate action from a much-needed human rights perspective.” 

Joseph Zane Sikulu, Pacific Managing Director, said:

“Time and again, Pacific Island leaders have shown the world what true climate leadership looks like. This endorsement of the campaign for an ICJ advisory opinion is a welcome message that Pacific, New Zealand and Australian leaders want to be on the right side of history, and it must be backed up by action.

“This voyage did not start here, nor does it end with this endorsement. We carry on the legacy of climate leaders from Tuvalu, Marshall Islands and Kiribati who fought for a target of 1.5°C to stay alive, and our canoe will not rest until we secure a safe and liveable future. Now it is time for the rest of the world to follow suit.”

Ashwini Prabha, Board Chair of the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network, said:

“Supporting the ICJAO is a test for global solidarity on climate emergency in times of critical energy and geopolitical debates where many countries are expanding fossil fuels instead of phasing out, jeopardising our chances to remain below the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold.

“All citizens around the world need their basic human rights protected and the ICJAO can ensure this recognition. Pacific civil society is counting on support from all regions around the globe in the months ahead culminating in a majority vote at the UN General Assembly in September in New York.” 



See PIF’s official communique here.

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.

Emissions Reduction Plan reaction

Oxfam Aotearoa Campaigns Lead Alex Johnston said: 


“While this plan starts to trend emissions downwards, we need to be slamming on the brakes, not slowly taking our foot off the accelerator.  


“We acknowledge progress has been made to get all government departments to understand the task of tackling climate change, but there’s a failure to produce policies that will meaningfully reduce pollution from industrial agriculture – responsible for half our emissions. 


“We’ve got another agriculture institute for developing new techno-fixes, but no real policies that will shift production systems away from intensive, volume-based dairy. The hidden consequence of this is paying billions of dollars to other countries – countries experiencing the worst impacts of the climate destruction we caused – to pick up our slack. 


“When the world is required to halve emissions by 2030 to keep within 1.5 degrees, a wealthy country like New Zealand saying we’re only going to reduce them by 18 percent in that time is a death sentence for those set to experience the worst impacts of climate change.  


“Going slow and steady is a decision that treat the lives of billions of people who are forced into hunger from climate fuelled drought, storms and displacement as expendable. Farmers in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia have lost crops and entire herds of livestock to an exceptionally long and severe drought. Millions of people in East Africa are now on the brink of a hunger catastrophe. 


“We know what’s needed to tackle emissions from agriculture: we need big dairy and beef to be brought into the Emissions Trading Scheme at a much stronger emissions price, and turn around the farming sector, from being Aotearoa’s biggest polluter, into a solution for tackling climate change and restoring nature. That involves a phase out of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, and investing billions in organic, regenerative agriculture.” 

Oxfam reaction to the IPCC’s Working Group III report on climate change mitigation

Responding to the publication today of the IPCC’s Working Group III report on climate change mitigation, Oxfam’s Climate Policy Lead Nafkote Dabi said:

“This IPCC report pulls no punches. The bleak and brutal truth about global warming is this: barring action on a sweeping scale, humanity faces worsening hunger, disease, economic collapse, mass migration of people and unbearable heat. It’s not about taking our foot off the accelerator anymore —it’s about slamming on the brakes. A warming planet is humanity’s biggest emergency.

“No amount of adaptation can compensate for the terrible consequences of failing to hit the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C. This is a survival target and it remains within our grasp, but just barely. After a dip in 2020, carbon emissions that fuel climate change have bounced back to pre-pandemic levels. We need extraordinary cuts in the use of fossil fuels to meet our emissions targets, and that entails a dramatic shift towards sustainable renewable energy. The recent push to increase production of oil, gas and coal and backtrack on climate measures because of the crisis in Ukraine —and even to delay net-zero— is shortsighted folly.

Oxfam Aotearoa Campaign Lead Alex Johnston said:

“Today, the world’s leading scientists urge world leaders, again, to act now, act quickly and act on a much larger scale than planned. It is clear that New Zealand’s response to the climate crisis is completely inadequate to the scale of the challenge we are facing. Domestic action planned by the government would reduce emissions by only about 9 percent by 2030. It is simply not enough.

“The New Zealand government’s Emissions Reduction Plan must do more to cut climate pollution faster and fairer, particularly in our largest polluting sectors of agriculture and transport to protect the things we love and ensure those on the frontlines of climate change can thrive, not just survive.”

Nafkote Dabi said: “Climate change is causing extreme weather disasters now and their costs are piling up. But these costs do not hit everyone equally. People living in poverty are suffering first and worst. Farmers in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia have lost crops and entire herds of livestock to an exceptionally long and severe drought. Millions of people in East Africa are now on the brink of a hunger catastrophe. Meanwhile the richest people who have massive carbon footprints are turning up the air-conditioning on their mega yachts.

“The other clear message from this report is that every single action to cut emissions counts and every fraction of a degree matters. The world is currently heading for 2.7°C of warming under current plans. That is a death sentence for climate-vulnerable countries like Vanuatu and Bangladesh. Wealthy countries are disproportionately responsible for the climate crisis and they have the double responsibility to both cut emissions at home and to support developing countries with the costs of replanting crops and rebuilding homes after storms, and moving from dirty energy forms to cleaner, lower-carbon ones.

“This monumental climate report is distressing but it is not surprising. Scientists and the IPCC have been warning governments of this danger for decades. Our future lies in the decisions we make today. We cannot tackle climate change later. We must clamp down on emissions now or face more catastrophic climate disasters, season after season.”