Rishi Sunak

A new report published by Oxfam has revealed that rich nations paid Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan just $2.4bn in climate-related development finance in 2021. That contrasts to the $53bn calculated as the amount needed in the region to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.

Oxfam’s report – Unfair Share – was published to coincide with the Africa Climate Summit taking place in Kenya from 4-6 September. It argues that the biggest polluting nations have a responsibility to bear the costs of the climate crisis and are failing to pay their fair share of funding to help one of the regions most affected by it.

The affects of the climate crisis are already being borne out in East Africa. Extreme weather, which is becoming more severe and more frequent as a result of the changing climate, is the primary driver of hunger in four African countries as a result of drought and flooding. Studies suggest that drought is as much as 100 times more likely in East Africa as a result of the climate emergency.

Drought and erratic rainfalls have killed nearly 13 million animals and decimated hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops. This has left millions of people without income or food. Oxfam estimates that Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan have lost $7.4bn in livestock as a result of climate change in the last two years. The NGO calculates that the countries have incurred up to $30bn in economic losses in total.

Oxfam highlights that the impacts of the climate crisis like this have a disproportionate impact on women and girls. Women in Somalia told Oxfam they now have to walk more than four hours every day to fetch water, often in treacherous journeys – a significantly increased distance compared to previous droughts.

Nimo Suleiman, a displaced mother of two from Somaliland, said: “I have witnessed previous droughts but I have never seen anything like this before. The closest water point for us is five kilometers away, the road to the water point is not safe and it is very hot but our family’s survival depends on us making that journey.”

Industrialised economies have significantly contributed to the climate crisis, which now disproportionally affects regions like East Africa. G7 countries and Russia have been responsible for 85 per cent of global emissions since 1850 – 850 times the emissions of Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan combined. The UK, the eighth biggest polluter over the period, is responsible for three per cent of the global share of carbon emissions.

Oxfam is calling on the UK Government to fulfil its commitment to spend £11.6bn on international climate finance by 2026 and ensure that it contributes towards strengthening the resilience of countries across East Africa to ongoing climate shocks.

The UK government has budgeted only £252 million for the four countries – a fraction of the £861m that helped stave of famine in the region in 2017.

Speaking on the publication of the report, Fati N’Zi-Hassane, Oxfam in Africa Director, said: “Even by their own generous accounting, polluting nations have delivered only pittance to help East Africa scale up their mitigation and adaptation efforts. Nearly half the funds they have given were loans, plunging the region further into debt.

“At the heart of East Africa’s hunger crisis is an abhorrent climate injustice. Rich polluting nations continue to rig the system by disregarding the billions of dollars owed to East Africa, while millions of people are left to starve from repeated climate shocks.”

Oxfam argues that the humanitarian system was not designed to respond to cyclical shocks of the frequency and scale caused by the climate crisis, and is not built to address the severity of loss and damage people are now facing. The NGO therefore argues it is of utmost importance that the UK commits to additional climate finance.

Oxfam also says the UK must also ensure the Loss and Damage fund – agreed at COP27 to help countries deal with the costs already incurred due to climate change – is set up in a way that properly serves affected communities and is adequately funded.

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