Oxfam Report Shows Gaps in Climate Adaptation Fund Commitments

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On July 3, 4 and 5, the world reached a new high in average temperatures. The BBC reports that the US National Centers for Environmental Prediction recorded a temperature of over 17.01°C on July 3, breaking the previous record of 16.92°C since August 2016.

1News reports that the new average temperature persisted the following days, with July 4 readings at 17.01°C and July 5 at 17.18°C. These readings are the highest since the end of the 19th century. Scientists attributed the temperature spike to the El Niño weather event and ongoing carbon dioxide emissions.

Scientists also expect record-breaking temperatures in the following weeks and months as El Niño, the warm phase of a larger phenomenon called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), kicks in. They predict that July 2023 will be the hottest month ever, and by “ever”, Karsten Haustein, from the University of Leipzig, means warmest in 120,000 years ago (McGrath, 2023).

Various places worldwide have also endured heatwaves and sweltering heat as scientists observed rapidly rising temperatures on land and sea.

June 2023 was the UK’s hottest on record. Spain had a record spring heat, and many countries in Asia had marine heatwaves in new places like the North Sea. China is experiencing continuing heat waves, with temperatures reaching more than 35°C in some areas, while the southern US also has sweltering temperatures.

“A record like this is another piece of evidence for the now massively supported proposition that global warming is pushing us into a hotter future,” said Stanford University climate scientist Chris Field, who was not part of the calculations (Two-day streak, 2023).

The heat is also felt in the world’s extreme. The BBC reports that July temperatures in Antarctica were also recently broken, with a reading of 8.7°C from Ukraine’s Vernadsky Research base.

Oxfam report: Developed countries did not meet their climate finance promise to developing countries

As temperature rises, a new report from Oxfam published in June 2023 finds that rich countries failed to honour their climate finance commitment of $100 billion per year to middle- to low-income countries.

The Climate Finance Shadow Report 2023 says that developed countries are guilty of this negligence and three years overdue on their promise, which can undermine trust in climate talks and could seriously affect whether the world will successfully avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Extreme weather events disproportionately impact low-income countries, the least responsible for the climate crisis, because of their low adaptive capacity and insufficient resources. With each extreme event, medium- to low-income countries suffer immense loss and damage, negating any economic gains, which makes their financial support from rich polluting countries crucial to support communities and nations on the frontlines of climate change, build resilience and adapt to its impacts and consequences.

The report notes while developed countries claimed that they had provided $83.3 billion in 2020 based on their accounting practices from their committed $100 billion in climate finance, Oxfam estimated that the actual value of the donor’s financial support aimed explicitly at climate action was only between $21bn to $24.5bn, which is significantly less than the donors officially reported figures.

The report says:

“But meeting the goal on paper is nowhere near enough because how climate finance is provided is as important as how much is provided. This report shows how an excessive number of loans, insufficient grants, inadequate funding for adaptation, and misleading accounting practices mean climate finance is far from fulfilling its purpose. Only a small share of climate finance has gender equality as a principal objective, and only a small share is for locally-led climate action. Even worse, in some cases, this finance, which should be helping communities thrive despite climate change, is likely harming them in other ways by increasing debt and taking money from shrinking Official Development Assistance (ODA) budgets.”

Key findings of the report include:

  • Due to overestimating the climate relevance of reported funds, bilateral climate finance may have been up to 30% lower than reported.
  • Among the bilateral providers, France gave the most significant share of its public climate finance as loans at 92%. Other climate loan-heavy financers are Austria at 71%, Japan at 90%, and Spain at 88%. Even the World Bank provided 90% of climate finance in 2019–20 as loans.
  • Only a quarter of the reported public climate finance is provided as grants. The remainder is primarily loans, most of which are not even concessions, meaning they do not represent a better deal that can be obtained on the market.
  • Only 33% of the reported public climate finance was for adaptation, while 59% was for mitigation.
  • Over half of climate finance was allocated to least developed countries (LDCS), and more than one-third of finance to small island developing states (SIDS) was provided as loans.
  • Finance to address “loss and damage” is still not officially part of the international climate finance architecture, resulting in no reliable support system.

The report “calls on high-income countries to accelerate the mobilization and provision of climate finance and to make up the shortfall from previous years in an equitable and just way. High-income countries must provide transparent finance with genuine accountability mechanisms, allowing for far more local ownership and responsiveness to the needs of the communities it is intended to reach. People on the frontlines of the climate crisis must have the funding they were promised for adaptation and mitigation and to address the loss and damage they are already experiencing because of climate impacts.”

Read the report: Climate Finance Shadow Report 2023: Assessing the Delivery of the $100 Billion Commitment


McGrath, M. (2023, July 5). Climate change: World’s hottest day since records began. BBC. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-66104822

Two-day streak for Earth’s hottest days on record. (2023, July 6). 1 News. Retrieved from https://www.1news.co.nz/2023/07/06/two-day-streak-for-earths-hottest-days-on-record/

Zagema, B., Kowalzig, J., Walsh, L., Hattle, A., Roy, C., & Dejgaard, H. (2023, June). Climate Finance Shadow Report 2023: Assessing the delivery of the $100 billion commitment. Oxfam. Retrieved from https://oxfamilibrary.openrepository.com/bitstream/10546/621500/19/bp-climate-finance-shadow-report-050623-en.pdf

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