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Oxfam: The price of success in Copenhagen

Oxfam: The price of success in Copenhagen

The difference between success and failure in Copenhagen could be whether warm words are backed up by the funding to protect vulnerable people from climate change and help developing countries reduce their emissions. Credible estimates put the total funding needed at US$200 billion, said Oxfam International at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen today.

“This measure of financial support is small change compared to the US$8.4 trillion world leaders found to save drowning banks,” said Barry Coates, Oxfam New Zealand Executive Director. “And it could trigger a chain reaction that delivers more ambitious emissions reductions and helps the world’s poorest people adapt to a changing climate.

“We need to see clear plans for funding on this scale to be delivered through a predictable and equitable mechanism. It is hard to see how the conference can reach an agreement without the funding.”

Big developing countries such as China have signalled that they are willing to increase – and formalise – already significant pledges to reduce emissions if rich countries provide the necessary support. This, in turn, could help rich country leaders overcome domestic barriers to more ambitious targets. It will also secure the support of a much broader group of poor countries that need help to adapt to a rapidly changing climate.

Oxfam warned that recent announcements on short term emergency funds for the world’s most vulnerable countries – so called ‘fast start’ – are no substitute for predictable financial support over the medium term (2013 - 2020). The recent meeting of Commonwealth Heads of State agreed that US$10 billion a year is needed in fast start funding between 2010 and 2012.

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Oxfam also said all finance must be truly new and additional. However, many rich countries, particularly Germany and Japan, still plan to use money from existing aid commitments to meet their climate obligations. Oxfam is calling for a global fund worth US$150 billion from 2013 and rising to US$200 billion or more by 2020.

Climate Change Minister Nick Smith said today the mantra of his negotiating team is "for New Zealand to do its fair share" to stop global warming.

Oxfam calculates New Zealand’s fair share of climate change finance – based on historical responsibility for creating the climate crisis and economic capability to tackle it – to be around NZ$700 million per year.

Coates: “Our government needs to face up to what a fair share really means. New Zealand and other rich countries are mistaken if they think that fair means delivering only a third of the emissions cuts demanded by the science, and an even smaller fraction of the funding. It underestimates the real needs of billions of poor people and overestimates the patience of vulnerable countries who have clearly signalled their preference for no deal over greenwash.”


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Oxfam International is a confederation of independent organisations from 14 countries around the world. It works to help others to tackle poverty.

Oxfam is a member of the tcktcktck campaign - a global coalition of environmental and development organisations, faith and youth groups and unions that is calling for a fair, ambitious and binding climate agreement in Copenhagen in December 2009.

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