Man carries child through flooded waters

A village official evacuates a child from a flooded area following heavy rains in Dazhou in China's southwestern Sichuan province on July 12, 2021. (Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images)

'This Is an Emergency': Oxfam Says Rich Nations' $100 Billion Climate Pledge Not Good Enough

"Time is running out for rich nations to build trust and deliver on their unmet target."

Rich nations will likely be three years late in starting to fulfill their pledged $100 billion in annual funds to help developing nations tackle the climate emergency, according to a document out Monday, sparking outcry from advocates for climate justice.

Developing countries have put up with accounting tricks, delays, and broken promises for far too long.

"It's disappointing to see rich countries fall short again on their $100 billion climate finance promise," tweeted The Elders, a human rights organization made up of former global leaders. "This is not enough to build trust ahead of COP 26," the United Nations climate summit beginning Oct. 31.

"We need to see a clear commitment to release all funds owed," the group added, "and a major increase in adaptation finance."

The Climate Finance Delivery Plan was published Monday by the U.K. COP presidency. At issue is a commitment made in 2009 by developed nations--those most responsible for causing the climate emergency--for $100 billion a year of climate aid to begin in 2020.

"Even though final figures for 2020 are not available yet, it is becoming clear," the document states, "that developed countries will not have mobilized US$100 billion jointly by that year." The goal will not likely be met until 2023, according to the plan. From the document:

Based on the analysis from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) of recent climate finance pledges and historical levels of climate finance, the outlook to 2025 shows a positive trend with developed countries making significant progress towards the US$100 billion goal in 2022 and provides confidence that it would be met in 2023. The data also provides confidence that developed countries will likely be able to mobilize more than US$100 billion per year thereafter. To reach the goal effectively, guiding principles for collective actions by developed countries are outlined in this plan."

The plan, according to Brandon Wu, director of policy and campaigns at ActionAid USA, "consists mostly of accounting tricks and delay tactics."

In an organizational blog post Wu explained:

Rather than aiming at actually delivering $100 billion each year, rich countries now seek to deliver $500 billion total, or an average of $100 billion per year over the period 2021-2025. This enables them to say they will scale up in later years, justifying inadequate levels of financing now.

Moreover, the United States--which given its historical emissions and national wealth should should be by far the largest provider of climate finance globally--has balked even at this muddied goal, and delayed the finalization of the Delivery Plan due to its reluctance to be held accountable for climate finance shortfalls in years past. As usual, the U.S. prefers to ignore historical injustices, sweep them under the rug, and "start anew" with a blank slate--as if our decades of inaction somehow don't matter.

Developing countries have put up with accounting tricks, delays, and broken promises for far too long.

Jan Kowalzig, senior climate policy adviser at Oxfam, was similarly critical of the plan.

In addition to reliance on the self-reporting of donor countries, Kowalzig expressed concern that the plan "conveniently fails to mention the money that poorer countries are owed for every year they fell short. This shortfall, which started to accumulate in 2020, will likely amount to several tens of billions of dollars."

"This is an emergency," he said in a statement.

Kowalzig cited as a further concern the absence of a "robust commitment to increase the share of finance for adaptation" and the plan's failure "to provide more support in the form of grants rather than loans."

"It is unacceptable," he said, "that poorer countries that have done little to cause the climate crisis are being forced to take out loans to protect themselves from surging climate disasters like droughts and storms."

Noting that the COP 26 climate summit begins in Scotland in less than a week, Kowalzig added that "time is running out for rich nations to build trust and deliver on their unmet target. This raises the stakes in Glasgow where wealthy governments must agree to more stringent reporting standards, on ensuring climate finance is directed to the right places and on a plan beyond 2025."

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