The wealthy economies whose contributions are expected to pay for climate action in developing countries are failing to fund efforts to adapt to the climate crisis, with just under one-fifth of the dollars secured in 2017 earmarked to help communities adapt to climate change impacts, according to a new report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
“Developing countries have long pushed for climate finance to be evenly split between helping them to reduce emissions and to adapt to existing climate impacts,” Climate Home reports. But the OECD’s analysis found that only 19% of climate finance mobilized in 2017 went to projects that helped communities adapt to climate change, with another 8% going to projects intended to both reduce emissions and boost climate resilience.
Saleemul Huq, director of the Bangladesh-based International Centre for Climate Change and Development, called the imbalance “a great failure of the global community”. He added: “Even more disheartening is the fact that less than 20% of the meagre funding for adaptation goes to the most vulnerable communities in the most vulnerable countries.”
Climate Home connects the OECD’s numbers back to the report earlier this month by the Global Commission on Adaptation, which called for US$1.8 trillion in adaptation investment by 2030 to avoid “climate apartheid”. World Bank research, as well, “shows that without adaptation, the inequality gap will widen and climate change impacts could push more than 100 million people below the poverty line by 2030,” Climate Home notes.
While the OECD concluded that wealthy countries devoted US$71.2 billion to climate finance in 2017, up from $58.6 billion the previous year, the Paris-based agency took heat for a methodology that has long been seen to favour donor countries by factoring in bilateral public money, multilateral public finance, export credits, and private finance. Oxfam Germany climate specialist Jan Kowalzig said the OECD was letting countries “grossly over-estimate the climate relevance” of the programs they fund, especially on adaptation.
The report also showed climate finance loans doubling between 2013 and 2017, while grants grew only 25%. Kowalzig cautioned that loans “can hardly be used for adaptation,” adding that adaptation work draws more benefit from the flexibility provided by grants.