The Government has committed to at least double by 2030 the percentage of official development assistance (ODA) spent on supporting developing countries in countering climate disruption.
The commitment was confirmed by Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid Colm Brophy on Monday.
Funding under the climate finance heading is provided by several departments and is targeted at the most vulnerable to global warming, notably in Africa and low-lying islands of the Pacific.
The Government is to publish a climate finance roadmap "to outline how Ireland will hit its targets and pay its fair share", Mr Brophy said – and all ODA would be "climate-proofed".
More than €93 million was spent on international climate action in 2019, a 17 per cent increase on 2018.
Some 99 per cent of this went towards strengthening the resilience of communities in responding to climate impacts.
Mr Brophy said: "Climate change is a threat to our prosperity, our security, and even our survival . . . there are billions of people more vulnerable than us around the world that need no reminder – the African farmer worrying about her next harvest or the Pacific Islander wondering will the sea swamp their home."
This was why the climate finance is being aimed at strengthening resilience in such locations. "And we are linking these efforts to our climate diplomacy at the UN, including on the Security Council, and within the EU," he said.
This work within the Department of Foreign Affairs is being led by its newly established unit headed by climate envoy Sinéad Walsh, which is “charged with delivering on Ireland’s [international] climate commitments, and will be leading efforts to increase our ambition in this area”.
Mr Brophy was commenting after publication of the annual Climate and Environmental Finance Report.
Success in directing funding locally was evident, he said, as was demonstrated with the introduction of energy-saving cooking options in Malawi. Rollout of more than two million new stoves over the past seven years had reduced deforestation and improved the health of people in rural areas. The stoves, manufactured mainly by women, were now deployed in half of all rural homes in the country.
Notwithstanding increased funding, the latest figures show "Ireland is breaking a key Paris Agreement pledge" to help developing countries cope with the impact of catastrophic climate breakdown, according to Christian Aid Ireland (CAI).
The figures are “approximately a fifth of the €475 million a year Ireland should fairly contribute”, it claimed.
Wealthy, high-emitting countries like Ireland had committed not only to reduce their own emissions and keep global temperatures within agreed levels, but also pledged to collectively provide $100 billion per year to help poorer countries adapt.
“Ireland’s limited climate finance contributions are out of sync with Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney’s stated ambition for Ireland to take a leadership role on the issue of climate change mitigation and adaptation,” said Conor O’Neill, CAI policy and advocacy adviser.
Ireland’s support for climate resilience “reflects a promise made to many island nations in the Caribbean and Pacific who voted for Ireland to be awarded a temporary UN Security Council seat because they think Ireland understands the issues they face”, he said.
“Keeping global temperatures below the crucial 1.5 degree line could hinge on ensuring developing countries have the money needed to adapt and reduce emissions quickly.”
While Ireland’s climate finance tends to be high quality, with projects focused on poorer countries delivered through Irish Aid, and paid with grants rather than loans, the amount contributed needs to increase significantly, Mr O’Neill said.