Funding needed for UN climate disaster appeals has soared more than 800% in 20 years as global warming takes hold. But only about half of that is covered by rich countries, according to a new report from Oxfam.
Last year was the third costliest on record for extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and wildfires with total economic costs estimated at $329 billion, nearly double the total aid given by donor countries.
While poor countries have appealed for $63-75 billion in emergency humanitarian aid over the past five years, they have only received $35-42 billion, leaving a shortfall that Oxfam called it “fragmentary and painfully insufficient”.
As diplomats sit down in Bonn on Tuesday for the first session of climate talks on ‘loss and damage’ – the costs of any climate destruction – Danny Sriskandarajah, chief executive of Oxfam GB, called the shortfall a financing of “unacceptable”.
He said: “Not only rich countries do not provide sufficient humanitarian aid when weather-related disasters occur. They are also failing to deliver $100 billion a year to help developing countries adapt to climate change and blocking calls for funding to help them recover from impacts such as land that has gone uncultivated. and damaged infrastructure.
“Wealthy countries like the UK must take full responsibility for the damage caused by their emissions and provide new funding for the loss and damage caused by climate change in the poorest countries.”
Campaigners point out that the UK actually cut aid to countries hit by climate disaster ahead of last autumn’s Cop26 conference in Glasgow. Rich countries have blocked Cop attempts to set up a financial mechanism to cover claims for loss and damage, an issue that will resurface in the Bonn talks.
The head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa, said Monday that the time had come to address the issue of loss and damage “in an open, constructive and respectful manner”.
Police Chairman Alok Sharma declined to comment, but a UK government spokesman said: “Cop26 has marked a significant step forward in action on loss and damage, we hope this momentum will be maintained. “
In a sign that the issue has moved onto the global agenda, a statement from G7 foreign ministers last month nodded to loss and damage for the first time, while Germany’s new envoy for the climate change, Jennifer Morgan, has suggested a new “global climate shield” as a possible solution.
The percentage of official development assistance (ODA) funds used for climate spending has barely changed over the past decade, even as the amounts required by disaster-affected countries soar.
In 2017, extreme weather was cited for the first time as a “major” factor in the majority of UN humanitarian appeals, according to Oxfam’s report. In 2021, it was a “major” or “contributing” factor in 78% of all such appeals, up from 35.7% in 2000. The UN expects a further 40% increase in weather-related disasters by 2030, but the human and financial cost of time is already mounting.
More than half a million people have abandoned their homes in Somalia’s worst drought in 40 years, Save the Children said on Monday. A quarter of a million people died in the country’s last famine in 2011, half of them children under the age of five. Severe climate-related droughts also continue to spread in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, while South Sudan is experiencing a fifth year of extreme flooding.
The four countries are collectively responsible for just 0.1% of current global emissions, compared to 37% emitted by wealthy, industrialized countries, Oxfam said.
“The report’s conclusions are clear,” said Madeleine Diouf Sarr, chair of the least developed countries bloc at the UN climate talks. “We emit almost nothing, but in our group of countries there are sinking islands, landslides burying houses, hospitals washed away by catastrophic weather events. Rich countries have a history[al] responsibility for this crisis, why wouldn’t they help clean up the mess? »
Asad Rehman, the director of War on Want, added that the report showed “the brutal reality of climate apartheid unfolding before our eyes”.
“Rich countries are committing arson on a planetary scale and refusing to stop pouring more oil and gas on the fire they started. But when faced with the bill for the damage they caused, they claim to have empty pockets,” he said. “It’s a deadly response shaped by a colonial mentality that for 500 years has inflicted injustice and inequity, the lives of those with black or brown skin in poor countries being considered less valuable than that of Western citizens.”