Call for stronger commitment to adaptation finance in Marrakech

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In a report on addressing the global gap in adaptation finance, Oxfam calls on developed countries to agree on a concrete roadmap for reaching the USD 100 billion climate finance commitment, make stronger and more concrete commitments to adaptation finance prior to 2020, and improve the quality and verifiability of climate finance commitments.

In its Adaptation Gap report of 2014, the United Nations Environment Programme estimated the adaptation cost to developing countries to be about USD 150 billion per year in a 2 degree Celsius world.  Its 2016 update estimated even higher costs.  Research by Climate Analytics and Oxfam shows that by 2030, developing countries could face adaptation costs of about USD 240 billion per year in a 3 degrees Celsius world, with current commitments to reducing emissions calculated to result in average global warming of at least that.

Many developing countries, including South Africa, included an estimate of adaptation finance needs in their voluntary commitments under the climate convention. However, these costs are considered to be preliminary, and countries use different methodologies and include different sectors, which makes it challenging to make sound comparisons.  What is important, though, is that developing and developed countries acknowledge their need for commitment to adaptation action, and are thinking creatively about quantifying their needs.  Developing countries will need finance support to meet their adaptation objectives, and developed countries have committed if not to redress than to their responsibility to provide support for adaptation through finance, technology transfer and capacity sharing.

The 2015 commitments made under the climate convention to balance adaptation and mitigation finance and increase adaptation finance from current levels is considered a missed opportunity to close the adaptation finance gap.  The report states that “qualitative commitments are not strong enough to address the extreme neglect of adaptation finance” and that quantitative targets are needed to ensure that adequate finance is channeled into adaptation. Currently only 16 per cent of international climate funds is spent on adaptation.

The quality of climate finance is also of high importance, with transparency and accountability critical for ensuring that the vulnerable get the support they need.  The report warns against “creative accounting”, for example where loans and private flows are counted as finance support.  South-South flows also require robust and fair accounting methodology.

Image below: Wetland restoration work is an important aspect of adaptation to climate change because it helps to secure water resources

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What is needed at Marrakech and beyond, says the report, is that “developed countries must agree a concrete roadmap at COP22 for how they will achieve the USD 100 billion commitment, ‘while significantly increasing adaptation finance from current levels’”.  In addition, rich countries should “commit to a substantial increase in resources” for the Adaptation Fund, Least Developed Countries Fund and Green Climate Fund.

The report further suggests:

  • Streamlined guidelines need to be developed to improve the quality of climate finance, and make countries’ climate finance figures comparable;
  • Ensure adaptation finance reaches those who need it most by developing consistent criteria for global and national government funds; and
  • Countries should recommit to additionality by providing climate finance on top of what they already provide to meet existing aid commitments.

The report Unfinished business: how to close the post-Paris adaptation finance gap is written by Tracy Carty and Armelle le Comte is available from here.