Ireland needs to step up climate funding for poorer countries

Published by Niall Sargent on

December 3rd, 2019

Ireland’s contribution to funding climate projects in developing countries must increase six-fold in order for the State to appropriately pay its way in the global effort to tackle climate breakdown.

This is the warning in a new report released this week by Christian Aid Ireland and Trócaire to coincide with the kick-off of a two-week-long UN climate conference in Madrid (COP25).

In 2018, Ireland gave €80 million toward climate finance for developing countries as part of a $100 billion pot that world leaders agreed in the Paris Agreement to set aside annually.

According to the report, however, Ireland should be contributing nearly €475 million that should come from newly available funds rather than taking it from existing aid budgets.

The joint-report calls for additional funding to be earmarked to cover costs caused by extreme weather conditions that disproportionately hit poorer nation compared to the low level of emissions they cause. It is estimated that the richest 10 countries are responsible for half of all emissions.

While Ireland is responsible for just 0.26 per cent of global emissions, our emissions are high compared to many developing countries that face the brunt of the impacts of climate change, such as Burundi, the country with the lowest per capita emissions in the world.

The average Irish person, for example, generates as much CO2 as 303 Burundians combined, yet our island has seen little of the extreme impacts of climate change so far.

In comparison, Burundi is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world and also one of the least ready countries to combat climate change impacts such as rainfall shortages, extreme floods, and soil erosion.

The increased funding, the report states, should sit alongside Ireland’s commitment to contribute 0.7 per cent of its gross national income (GNI) towards tackling global poverty.  In 2020, Ireland’s aid budget is set to be €837 million, the equivalent of 0.41 per cent of GNI.

Jenny Higgins of Christian Aid Ireland said that developing countries will never be able to afford to deal with the very real consequences of climate change unless countries like Ireland “step up and fairly contribute financially”.

“It is vital that additional climate financing is not diverted from existing aid budgets or commitments, otherwise we will be in the situation of robbing Peter to pay Paul and choosing between life-saving projects and efforts to tackle climate change,” she added.

Trócaire’s Cliona Sharkey added: “Ireland is yet to experience the extent of the devastating impacts of climate change that are a persistent reality for the poorest people in the world, who are suffering increasingly frequent and intense droughts, devastating cyclones and other extreme weather conditions.

“Increasing support to the poorest countries to enable them to take action is a profound moral imperative and a practical necessity if global climate goals are to be achieved,” she said.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London