Oxfam's EU Advocacy office in Brussels

By Lies Craeynest, Oxfam’s EU climate change expert

On Tuesday and Wednesday, EU Environment and Finance Ministers will discuss their common position for this year’s round of UN climate talks in Warsaw, Poland. Ahead of these important meetings, Oxfam coordinated the visit of a group of Bangladeshi UN climate negotiators to Brussels to meet both members of the European Parliament (EP) and EU experts.

The delegation arrived at a time when the climate crisis is finally making it back onto the European agenda. Coming off the heels of the release of the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at the end of September, which saw scientists state they are 95% sure climate change is exacerbated by humans, the European Commission is now preparing its proposals for the EU 2030 Climate and Energy Package for later this year. This week’s report by the European Environment Agency, which reports that the EU has almost reached its 20% target for 2020 seven years early, helps frame the ambition we can achieve with that new package.

Throughout the week, the main spokesperson of the delegation, Dr Mohammed Asaduzzaman, called on the EU to work closer with Bangladesh and Least Developed Countries (LDC) in the fight against climate change, and to reinvigorate the Durban Alliance launched in Durban in 2011. At the European Parliament’s Development Committee, he warned that great progress made in Bangladesh on the Millennium Development Goals, partly thanks to European aid, is at risk of being reversed due to increasing climate impacts; 15 million people are already in severe risk of flooding in the river Delta.

Both global and EU aid have decreased for the second year in a row which can only mean that vulnerable countries like Bangladesh will have to divert their own core budgets to deal with a crisis they have not caused.

Later in the week, at an EP event on the UN climate conference next month, Dr. Asaduzzaman regretted that some countries are attempting to glorify private funding as the solution to the emerging climate finance gap, and warned that adaptation costs should be primarily met through finance from public sources. Net resource flow from developing countries to the developed world would be seen as “climate colonialism”, he said.

Apart from several appeals to the European Union to step up its climate action for 2020 (when offsets are included, EU emissions are nearly 27% below 1990 levels in 2012), the Bangladeshis stressed that discussions on ‘Loss and Damage’ will be of paramount importance in Warsaw.

Many communities are already dealing with both economic hardship, due to increased water level inundating land and acidification of water killing fish stocks, but also the loss of lives and mass migration. How will they be supported to deal with impacts that cannot be adapted to? Bangladesh, together with other vulnerable countries, calls for an international mechanism to address this. They warned though that poor people should not be required to pay insurance premiums to protect themselves against climate impacts.

The potential towering cost of past and future losses as a result of climate impacts in both developed and developing countries should sharpen the minds of EU leaders next week. They should step up climate action immediately to help us stay within an allowable carbon budget and to help control runaway costs of climate losses, including those related to major and hidden impacts on food security. As a bonus, early action is also good for Europe’s economy as it will both create jobs and cut health costs.

But apart from this, EU ministers, as well as other developed countries, should be warned if they plan to come empty handed to Warsaw. Faced with such escalating costs, how can countries like Bangladesh step into a coalition of ambition with the EU to help agree the 2015 climate deal? With the Polish COP presidency having made climate finance one of the key priorities for Warsaw, it is only right that expectations are high.

Oxfam is calling on EU Ministers to go to the UN climate talks next month in Warsaw with a clear mandate to negotiate and commit to:

• Provide climate finance for 2013-2015 at a higher level than the amount delivered over the EU Fast Start Period. This should also include pledges and regular contributions to multilateral climate funds, especially the UN Green Climate Fund, the Adaptation Fund
and the Least Developing Country Fund.

• Ensure at least 50% of public finance is dedicated to developing countries’ adaptation needs.

• Phase out EU Member States’ subsidies for fossil fuels and deploy savings as a new source of international climate finance

• Use the upcoming structural reform of the EU Emissions Trading Syste as an opportunity to raise climate finance by automatically allocatin g a percentage of revenues from the auctioning of emissions allowances to the Green Climate Fund.

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