Global warming to ‘reshape’ humanitarian aid agenda

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The number of people affected by climate disaster will more than double in the next six years, forcing the global community to both increase and improve humanitarian aid, a new Oxfam report to be published today (21 April) shows.

The development NGO predicts that climate disasters will affect the lives of 375 million people by 2015. This is due to a combination of entrenched poverty and mass migration, but also vulnerability and weather shocks, the report argues.

To respond to the growing number of disasters caused by climate change, international humanitarian aid will have to rise from $14.2 billion in 2006 to at least $25bn annually just to stay at current levels of contribution per person, Oxfam says. It adds that even this is “woefully inadequate to meet their basic needs”.

Oxfam stresses that the humanitarian system will have to be recalibrated to allow developing countries to better prepare for future shocks. It adds that aid will have to become more impartial and more efficient in responding to disasters.

“The humanitarian system works as if it’s a global card game dealing out aid randomly, not based on people’s needs. The response is often fickle – too little, too late and not good enough,” said Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International.

Oxfam argues that the world has the financial means to meet the humanitarian needs of everyone affected by climate change disasters, like floods and droughts, which will drive up to a billion inhabitants away from their homes by 2050.

The report states that given that European governments found $42 billion to bail out their financial sectors in 2008, they could easily afford to provide at least $50 billion annually to finance climate adaptation in poor countries.

Rich countries must commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming below the critical 2°C threshold and take the lead in mitigating the impact of climate change, Oxfam stresses.

According to Elise Ford, who heads Oxfam International’s EU office, the Union should provide at least €12bn annually as part of a €40bn global fund to help developing countries to adapt to the climate change effects that are already unavoidable.

“To avoid the most extreme potential impact of climate change in the longer term, a safe and fair post-2012 deal at Copenhagen must deliver clear rich-country commitments,” she said.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks, which launched the negotiations for a draft climate agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2020, have so far made little progress in terms of concrete proposals.

EU leaders disappointed environmental organisations and many MEPs by failing to put figures on the table at their spring summit on financing climate efforts in developing countries, preferring instead to wait for the US to unveil its proposal (EURACTIV 23/03/09). 

International talks have now progressed to working on a draft agreement, which should be on the table by the time of the next round of talks in Bonn in June (EURACTIV 09/04/09).

  • United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC):Homepage
  • United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC):Cooperation & Support

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