Wealthy nations should be held accountable for their actions
Oxfam has just taken a big step — it wasn’t easy, and they deserve heaps of kudos for it. It has called for a mandatory, global adaptation-funding regime, one that’s on the right scale, or at least the right order of magnitude. It would make national obligations to pay — to help poor and vulnerable communities adapt to the now inevitable impacts of climate change — contingent on historical responsibility for the impacts of climate change, and on ability to pay.
I couldn’t be more pleased, and not just because Oxfam’s “Adaptation Financing Index” is closely related to our own work in developing a “Responsibility and Capacity Index.” What’s really important here is that a big outfit like Oxfam has stuck its neck out and spoken the simple truth. Let’s hope they get some support for it, because they’re sure going to get some pushback from the realos.
Oxfam’s report is called “Adapting to climate change: What’s needed in poor countries, and who should pay?” It’s available here (PDF). And here’s their own intro to it:
Climate change is forcing vulnerable communities in poor countries to adapt to unprecedented climate stress. Rich countries, primarily responsible for creating the problem, must stop harming, by fast cutting their greenhouse-gas emissions, and start helping, by providing finance for adaptation. In developing countries Oxfam estimates that adaptation will cost at least $50bn each year, and far more if global emissions are not cut rapidly. Urgent work is necessary to gain a more accurate picture of the costs to the poor. According to Oxfam’s new Adaptation Financing Index, the USA, European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia should contribute over 95 per cent of the finance needed. This finance must not be counted towards meeting the UN-agreed target of 0.7 per cent for aid. Rich countries are planning multi-billion dollar adaptation measures at home, but to date they have delivered just $48m to international funds for least-developed country adaptation, and have counted it as aid: an unacceptable inequity in global responses to climate change.