The EU Passes Climate Change Burden to World’s Poorest

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Angela Corbalan, Oxfam’s EU media officer on + 32 473 56 22 60

The EU Passes Climate Change Burden to World’s Poorest

WASHINGTON - Europe's refusal to commit
money to help poor people cope with climate change could derail the
chances of reaching a fair climate deal in Copenhagen, warned Oxfam
International today.

The EU's Climate Change Communication,
published today and due to be adopted by Member States in March, sets
out Europe's position for the post-2012 negotiations.

The
proposal recognizes that massive resources are needed to help
developing countries adapt to climate impacts and adopt green
technologies, and has promising ideas on how to raise the money. But it
completely fails to specify how much money the EU and other rich
countries will make available.

As Commissioner Dimas today
acknowledged, finance is a make-or-break part of a global climate
agreement. Yet early funding commitments have been stripped out of the
final document.

Elise Ford, head of Oxfam International's EU
office, said: "Unless developing countries see hard cash on the table,
there is a real danger they will simply walk away. It seems the
Commission is pandering to Member States' expected opposition to put
money on the table - fueled by their worries about the impact of the
recession.

"A year ago, the European Union set a much needed
minimum floor for negotiations with a call for a 20-30% mitigation cut
by 2020. Now, instead of setting a target for adaptation finance too,
the Commission has shrunk from any ambition, let alone responsibility
as a major polluter. This seems to be a new EU, one that's signaling
it's ready to race to the bottom.

"The EU should look to US
President Obama's call for a climate recovery plan which protects
people and rebuilds economies. EU Member States now have just over a
month to dust off and don their climate leadership uniforms."

Oxfam
estimates that at least €38 billion ($50bn) per year is needed to fund
adaptation in developing countries, with Europe owing at least €12bn
($16bn). This needs to be managed by the United Nations and come on top
of existing aid commitments. This is to ensure donors don't divert
money meant for schools and health services, and pass it off as climate
finance they owe as a result of on-going pollution.

"Developing
countries will be alarmed that the UN - which by rights should be the
governor-in-chief of new climate funds - is side-lined in the
Communication. This leaves the way open for a spaghetti bowl of money
flows, with no trusted referee to ensure countries pay their dues and
the funds reach the poorest," said Hugh Cole, Oxfam's Regional Climate
Change Advisor for Southern Africa.

Oxfam welcomed the EU's
strong line that all rich countries should reduce emissions on a just
basis, but argued the fairest way to cut the carbon pie by measuring
countries' historic responsibilities (per capita emissions) and wealth.

Notes to editors

1. Climate change is already having an impact on millions of poor people around the world. There
has been a dramatic increase in extreme weather events over the last 20
years. By 2020, according to the UN, up to 250m people across Africa
may face drastic water shortages, and between 150m and 1bn people could
be displaced by extreme weather, disease, and - on some calculations -
the halving of yields for crops like corn and rice.

2. Poor countries need help to build up their resilience
by, for example, upgrading national flood early-warning systems,
planting mangrove ‘bio-shields' along coasts to diffuse storm waves and
growing drought-tolerant crops. If countries fail to adapt to the new
reality of climate change, they will suffer far greater damage from
floods, droughts and hurricanes, and at much higher cost, both in human
and financial terms.

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Oxfam International is a confederation of 13 like-minded organizations working together and with partners and allies around the world to bring about lasting change. Oxfam works directly with communities and that seeks to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

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