What does Adaptation Finance have to do with Climate Change?

Today, we launched a new briefing note (see all the photos here) at the UN Climate Change Conference that is being held in Bali, Indonesia. The note called “Financing adaptation: why the UN’s Bali Climate Conference must mandate the search for new funds". received a lot of coverage in the media, so I was lucky to grab the lead author, Oxfam’s Charlotte Sterett, for a chat between interviews.

Karina - What was your day like at the conference today?

Charlotte - The second day of the Bali conference started with a flurry of activity, as Oxfam gave its first press conference that we will be doing here on adaptation financing. The note we launched focuses on the costs of adaptation in developing countries, and our panel included Oxfam staff, as well as conference delegates from developing countries. The delegates joined us in putting rich countries on notice, to live up their obligations as agreed under the UN and Kyoto Protocol, to assist poor developing countries adapt to climate change.

Why is adaptation financing needed to support people who are or will be in the future, affected by climate change?

Financing for adaptation is critical for poor women and men in vulnerable communities because their lives and livelihoods depend on it. Without this funding these countries will struggle to adapt to the changes in time and it will be the poorest who have to deal with the impacts.

What needs to happen to ensure that developing countries are able to cope with Climate Change?

Oxfam estimates that the costs of adaptation in all developing countries is at least $50bn(US) per year, and it will increase if emissions are not cut fast enough. The majority of the funds should come from rich, industrialized countries with the United States and the European Union providing the lion’s share of over 70%.

That's a lot of money?

$50bn per year is a lot of money, but it’s the amount that poor countries require to cope and adapt to the worst impacts of climate change. It’s also within the range that the UN has stated is required. It’s not only possible, it’s what rich countries have a moral responsibility to pay, given they are largely responsible for climate change. These funds can be raised if we have the political will to make real changes.

What would a good result from this conference look like for Oxfam?

Along with significant political action to affect real progress in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, Oxfam also wants to see the following achieved in terms of adaptation;

  1. We want all rich countries to deliver on their promises to assist developing countries adapt to climate change
  2. We want to see agreement on an equitable ‘road-map’ for post-2012 that includes explicit discussion of potential fair and equitable funding sources for the adaptation fund
  3. We want funds for adaptation to be managed and disbursed in ways that put the needs of those worst affected by climate change first and central.

Finally, what does Climate Change mean to you on a personal level?

Climate change is affecting people around the world. At home in Australia we have been experiencing severe drought for many years which is reducing the amount of water we have available. However, Australia has the resources to manage this and as a result we do not suffer to the extent that poor women and men do in developing countries.

For them the impacts are much more severe, and at times, life threatening. And when you hear stories from people in the Pacific , like the those from Ursula Rakova, from the Carteret Islands who are already making plans to leave because it is being swallowed by the sea, Climate Change becomes much more than a debate about facts and figures.

Thanks Charlotte.

You can watch the press conference at the United Nations Climate Change Conference website or see a slide show of photos from event.

Charlotte Sterett - is the Climate Change Campaign Manager for Oxfam Australia and lead author of

Karina Brisby - is Interactive Campaigns Mananger for Oxfam Great Britain

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