Ireland must increase climate finance contributions six-fold to meet ‘fair share’

Christian Aid Ireland and Trócaire say levels need to increase from €80m to €475m

People recover their belongings after  cyclone Idai in  Mozambique,  March 2019. Photograph: EPA/Andre Catueira

People recover their belongings after cyclone Idai in Mozambique, March 2019. Photograph: EPA/Andre Catueira

 

Ireland must increase its funding of projects tackling climate change by nearly six times the current amount to fairly contribute to efforts to prevent catastrophic global warming, it has been claimed .

In a report published on Monday, aid agencies Christian Aid Ireland and Trócaire conclude Ireland’s total annual climate finance contributions need to increase to nearly €475 million a year from €80 million contributed in 2018.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, wealthy countries agreed to generate a total of $100 billion (€91 billion) a year for developing countries to tackle climate disruption.

The funding is intended for those countries already experiencing the worst effects of global heating, for adaptation measures and to reduce their carbon emissions.

The report was issued to coincide with the first day of COP25, the annual high-level UN climate conference in Madrid, where leaders from more than 190 countries – excluding the US – are set to sign-off on full implementation of the agreement from January 1st.

The report calls for any increase in climate financing to come from newly available money rather than taken from existing Irish aid budgets and should sit alongside a commitment to contribute 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI) towards tackling global poverty. In 2020, Ireland’s aid budget is set to be €837million, the equivalent of 0.41 per cent of GNI.

Christian Aid Ireland policy and advocacy advisor Jenny Higgins said: “Unless Ireland and other developed countries step up and fairly contribute financially, developing countries will never be able to afford to deal with the very real consequences of climate change nor reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions levels.”

Additional climate financing should not be diverted from existing aid budgets or commitments, she added, “otherwise we will be in the situation of robbing Peter to pay Paul and choosing between life-saving projects and efforts to tackle climate change”.

She welcomed the commitment in the budget to doubling Ireland’s contributions to the Green Climate Fund to €16 million. “However it pales in comparison to what other similar-sized European countries have pledged to give,” she said.

Devastating

Cliona Sharkey, policy advisor with Trócaire, said Ireland had yet to experience the extent of devastating impacts of climate disruption that are “a persistent reality for the poorest people in the world, who are suffering increasingly frequent and intense droughts, devastating cyclones and other extreme weather conditions”.

The only way to stop global temperatures rising beyond the agreed limit of 1.5 degrees is for all nations to work together, she said. “Increasing support to the poorest countries to enable them to take action is a profound moral imperative, and a practical necessity if global climate goals are to be achieved.”

The report calls for more funds to be earmarked towards covering the costs of damage and destruction already caused by extreme weather, such as typhoon Haiyan which hit the Philippines in 2013 and caused $10 billion in damage. “Poorer nations are least responsible for the climate crisis and therefore should not have to pick up the bill of this damage on their own.”

Despite its poor record on emissions reduction and inadequate contribution to climate funding, the report says Ireland has “a commendable focus on least developed countries, adaptation and gender in the context of climate action”.

Developing nations are predicted to face 75 per cent of the cost of the climate crisis; since 2000 their citizens have died at a rate seven times higher than in richer nations.

While the poorest half of the world’s population is responsible for only 10 per cent of carbon emissions, the richest 10 countries are responsible for 50 per cent of carbon emissions.

Ireland has the third highest level of carbon emissions per person in the EU and in 2018 was ranked the worst performing country in Europe for action on climate change. The average Irish person generates as much carbon dioxide as 303 Burundians.