Press Releases

Oxfam Ireland call for the Irish Govt to implement climate accountability legislation immediately as ground-breaking litigation case filed in France against BNP Paribas

Three French NGOs, including Oxfam have today taken the first step towards an unprecedented climate litigation case - the first in the world to target a commercial bank for its high-risk activities in the oil and gas sector.

The bank in question, BNP Paribas, had a larger carbon footprint than that of French territory in 2020. This makes them the number one European financier of fossil fuel expansion.

For more than 10 years, Oxfam France, Friends of the Earth France and Notre Affaire à Tous spoke out about the role of the financial sector in fueling the climate crisis. The NGOs engaged intensively with French banks and the French government to prevent dodgy transactions benefiting the coal, oil and gas industries. They are now taking legal action warning BNP Paribas to immediately stop supporting - both directly and indirectly - new fossil fuel projects and comply with the Paris goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. 

Michael McCarthy Flynn, Head of Policy and Advocacy of Oxfam Ireland said, “We urgently need the legal basis to take the same sorts of action here in Ireland”.

A similar case cannot currently be taken in Ireland as we haven’t passed business and human rights legalisation to match France's due diligence law. However, as a founding member of the Irish Coalition for Business and Human Rights, Oxfam Ireland has led the call for strong Irish legislation on Business and Human Rights, including climate obligations, as soon as possible, to address these kind of cases and to follow a wave of reform across Europe in this area.

“This type of law is what we are advocating for in Ireland so all corporates including financial institutions can be held accountable for their climate action obligations,” said McCarthy Flynn.

 “We were left with little choice given how defenceless we are against climate change. We in Oxfam recently highlighted that one person is dying in the Horn of Africa every 36 seconds because of climate induced drought.

Meanwhile the biggest oil and gas companies turn a blind eye to the devastation caused and continue to plan dozens of new fossil fuel projects globally. This action aims to cut off the source finance. We see this as vital to prevent future floods and famine,” said Oxfam’s Policy lead.

ENDS

Contact: Clare Cronin, External Communication Manager 353+87+1952551

Notes for Editors

  • The Irish Coalition on Business and Human Rights, with Oxfam Ireland’s support, also addressed the Oireachtas committee on Trade, Enterprise and Employment last week to call for Ireland to state its position publicly in support of strong EU legislation currently in process, while the  also attended the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today to call for a strong and binding UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights.
  • Oxfam International Press Release here.
  • Read more, Towards a Lawsuit Against a Funder of Climate Chaos here.

 

Posted In:

Calls for Ireland to publicly support “Loss and Damage” Funding in the run up to COP 27

A major new report says profits from six fossil fuel companies in the first half of this year would cover the cost of major extreme weather and climate-related events in developing countries – and still leave them with nearly $70 billion in profit.

The Cost of Delay, by Oxfam and the Loss and Damage Collaboration, highlights how rich countries have repeatedly stalled efforts to provide dedicated finance, termed ‘Loss and Damage’ payments, to developing countries bearing the costs of a climate crisis they did little to cause. The report is a collaboration between a group of more than 100 researchers, activists, and policymakers from around the globe.

Oxfam have advocated for the taxing of energy and other major industries on windfall profits to help resource such payments.

Recent years have seen fossil fuel profits rocket while people in some of the poorest places on earth are left to foot the bill of the climate crisis. The report’s full title is ‘The Cost of Delay: Why Finance to Address Loss and Damage must be agreed at COP27.’

A mechanism for ‘Loss and Damage’ payments was first proposed in 1991.  Delaying and blocking tactics by rich countries have prevented any funding from being agreed to this day, as this report shows.

The ‘Cost of Delay’ report uses the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan this year as an illustration of the challenges.

  • At least 33 million people were directly affected.

  • Costs were estimated at over $30 billion.

  • The UN humanitarian appeal for the floods is set at only $472.3 million (just over one per cent of what is needed)

  • This inadequate appeal is only 19 per cent funded.

The huge gap between what is needed and what is being made available will have to be met by Pakistan. It must take out another IMF loan to help recover from the floods.

In contrast, funds from a Loss and Damage Finance Facility would be new and additional,  and come in the form of grants, to ensure the country was not burdened by debt in the aftermath of a climate-induced disaster.

“It is not too late to end this intolerable injustice,” said Oxfam CEO, Jim Clarken. “COP 27 starts in just two weeks and finance to address loss and damage must be agreed. News that the issue will be on the agenda for COP27 is welcome. An ambitious outcome is critical not only for those dealing with climate impacts in developing countries, but also for maintaining trust and credibility.

“Ireland has a real opportunity to show leadership by publicly supporting a Loss and Damage Facility in the run-up to COP 27.  Ireland’s political support to developing countries on this issue would send a hugely significant message among EU states.”

“We must end this delay. The best time to start was 31 years ago, the next best time is now.”

The report’s release comes a day before civil society representatives and Minister Eamon Ryan appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment and Climate Action to discuss Ireland’s approach to COP 27.

Oxfam Ireland has nominated the Kenyan climate activist, Elizabeth Wathuti, to appear before the Committee.  Elizabeth has been working alongside Oxfam over the last few months documenting the impact of climate breakdown in Africa. She will be attending COP 27 where she will advocate for Loss and Damage funding. She was recently included in Time Magazine’s 100 NEXT list. She was nominated by former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson.

Speaking about the release of the report, Elizabeth Wathuti said “We are witnessing devastating Loss and Damage right now. The impacts of climate inaction are claiming lives and livelihoods, displacing people from their homes, and millions are facing climate-related starvation. As the impacts of climate change start to land, the education and empowerment of women and girls also suffers, climate change is forcing girls out of schools. Loss and Damage is becoming the priority and defining issue for COP27.”

ENDS

Contact Information

For more information or interview requests, please contact: Clare Cronin, External Communications Manager, Oxfam Ireland 353+87+1952551

Notes to editors:

  • The full report ‘The cost of delay: why finance to address Loss and Damage must be agreed at COP27’ is available here. (link will go live on 24 October – pdf available on request)
  • The Loss and Damage Collaboration (L&DC) is a group of practitioners, researchers, activists, creative practitioners and decision makers working together to ensure that vulnerable developing countries, and the vulnerable people and communities within them, have the support they need to address climate change related loss and damage. L&DC represent a range of organisations including the Climate Leadership Initiative: Empowering the New Generation, the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN).
  • ‘Loss and damage’ broadly refers to the consequences of climate impacts which cannot be or have not been avoided through mitigation or adaptation. ‘Loss’ can refer to loss of lives, livelihoods or culture and ‘damage’ can be to infrastructure or ecosystems, among other things.
  • Data for the number of extreme weather events, people affected, and deaths were gathered from CRED’s Emergency Disasters database. This is a global database of natural and technological disasters which contains data on the occurrence and effects of more than 21,000 disasters around the world, from 1900 to present.
  • Data for fossil fuel profits of six major fossil fuel companies in the first six months of 2022 was gathered from the publicly reported Q1 and Q2 profits of BP, Shell, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Total and Eni.
  • The costs of extreme weather events in developing countries in the first six months of 2022 were calculated using Aon’s Global Catastrophe Recap: 1H report.
  • Super-profits of the fossil fuel industry from 2000-2019 were estimated using Verbruggen’s 2022 analysis of oil and gas rents, available here. This uses World Bank data, which assesses the annual rents from crude oil, natural gas, and other resources. Numbers are expressed in US dollars in 2020 terms.
  • Data for the economic losses in 55 of the most climate-vulnerable countries between 2000 and 2019 was sourced from the V20’s 2022 report.
  • A methodology note is available for the report here.
  • According to Climate Action Tracker, current policies presently in place around the world are projected to result in about 2.7°C warming above pre-industrial levels.
  • Estimates for loss and damage costs in developing countries by 2030 are from Markandya and González-Eguino’s 2018 analysis.
  • The UN appeal page for the Pakistan flood response is here.
  • Africa emissions from Our World in Data: https://ourworldindata.org/co2-emissions
Posted In:

True value of climate finance is a third of what developed countries report - Oxfam

Reporting international climate finance remains flawed, and profoundly unfair.

Many rich countries are using dishonest and misleading accounting to inflate their climate finance contributions to developing countries – in 2020 by as much as 225%, according to investigations by Oxfam.

Oxfam estimates between just $21-24.5 billion as the “true value” of climate finance provided in 2020, against a reported figure of $68.3 billion in public finance that rich countries said was provided (alongside mobilised private finance bringing the total to $83.3 billion). The global climate finance target is supposed to be $100 billion a year.

“Rich country contributions not only continue to fall miserably below their promised goal but are also very misleading in often counting the wrong things in the wrong way. They’re overstating their own generosity by painting a rosy picture that obscures how much is really going to poor countries,” said Nafkote Dabi, Oxfam International Climate Policy Lead.

“Our global climate finance is a broken train: drastically flawed and putting us at risk of reaching a catastrophic destination. There are too many loans indebting poor countries that are already struggling to cope with climatic shocks. There is too much dishonest and shady reporting. The result is the most vulnerable countries remaining ill-prepared to face the wrath of the climate crisis,” says Dabi.

Oxfam research found that instruments such as loans are being reported at face value, ignoring repayments and other factors. Too often funded projects have less climate-focus than reported, making the net value of support specifically aiming at climate action significantly lower than actual reported climate finance figures. 

Currently, loans are dominating over 70% provision ($48.6 billion) of public climate finance, adding to the debt crisis across developing countries.

“To force poor countries to repay a loan to cope with a climate crisis they hardly caused is profoundly unfair. Instead of supporting countries that are facing worsening droughts, cyclones and flooding, rich countries are crippling their ability to cope with the next shock and deepening their poverty,” said Dabi.

Least Developed Countries’ external debt repayments reached $31bn in 2020.

For example, Senegal, which sits in the bottom third of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change, received 85% of its climate finance in form of debt (29% being non-concessional loans), despite being at moderate risk of falling into debt distress and with its debt amounting to 62.4% of its Gross National Income.       

“A keyway to prevent a full-scale climate catastrophe is for developed nations to fulfil their $100 billion commitments and genuinely address the current climate financing accounting holes. Manipulating the system will only mean poor nations, least responsible for the climate crisis, footing the climate bill,” said Dabi.

“A climate finance system that is primarily based on loans is only worsening the problem. Rich nations, especially the heaviest-polluting ones, have a moral responsibility to provide alternative forms of climate financing, above all grants, to help impacted countries cope and develop in a low carbon way,” said Dabi.

“At the upcoming COP27 climate talks this November, rich countries must urgently commit to scaling up grant-based support to vulnerable countries and to fixing their flawed reporting practices.”

Notes to the editor

  • Download a full copy of the report, Climate Finance Short Changed Report 2022: The real value of the $100 billion commitment in 2019-20, here:
  • The 2020 reported climate finance totalling $83.3 billion included public finance ($68.3 billion), private finance mobilised ($13.1 billion) and export credits ($1.9 billion) in 2020.  Oxfam has assessed the value of finance provided, IE the public finance element. OECD (2022), Climate Finance Provided and Mobilised by Developed Countries in 2016-2020: Insights from Disaggregated Analysis, Climate Finance and the USD 100 Billion Goal, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/286dae5d-en
  • Overreporting of loans is incentivising the use of loans which are dominating climate finance provision. According to the latest assessment by the OECD, loans made up 71% of public climate finance in 2019-20– a significant share of which were non-concessional – while only 26% was provided as grants.[i]   [i] OECD (2022a), Climate Finance Provided and Mobilised by Developed Countries in 2016-2020: Insights from Disaggregated Analysis, Climate Finance and the USD 100 Billion Goal, OECD Publishing, Paris.
  • Oxfam’s $21-24.5 billion figure includes the estimated grant equivalent of reported climate finance rather than the face value of loans and other non-grant instruments. It also accounts for overreporting of climate finance where action to combat climate change is one part of a broader development project. For more details please check Oxfam methodology note.
  • Senegal’s debt instrument figures are based on 2013-2018 climate finance reports, according to Oxfam “Climate Finance in West Africa” report, 2022. Please also see OECD. (2021). Climate Change: OECD DAC External Development Finance Statistics – Recipient Perspective. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  • Senegal ranks Senegal is 134th out of 182, or in the bottom 30% in terms of vulnerability according to the ND-GAIN Index.

Contact: Clare Cronin | clare.cronin@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 87 195 2551

Posted In:

Hunger likely to claim a life every 36 seconds in drought-stricken East Africa over next three months – Oxfam

One person is likely to die of hunger every 36 seconds between now and the end of the year in drought-stricken East Africa as the worst hit areas hurtle towards famine, Oxfam warned today.

The international agency warned that the situation in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya is deteriorating fast. In Somalia, it is the worst hunger crisis in living memory, with the number of people experiencing acute hunger already surpassing that of the famine of 2011, when more than a quarter of a million people died. Almost one in six people in Somalia are now facing extreme hunger.

Large parts of the region have suffered four failed rainy seasons – with a fifth likely to unfold over the next three months – as climate change has decimated crops and forced pastoralists to abandon their traditional way of life.

“When Oxfam Ireland were in the region recently raising the alarm, people told us they could do nothing but look skyward hoping for rain,” said Oxfam Ireland’s CEO Jim Clarken. “People are suffering because of changes to the climate that they did nothing to cause. Rich nations, including Ireland, which have done most to contribute to the climate crisis have a moral responsibility to protect people from the damage they have caused.”

The crisis has been exacerbated in many places by conflict, the fallout from Covid-19 and by rising food prices due in part to the war in Ukraine.

Oxfam analysis of the latest available data suggests that the rate at which people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are dying of hunger has increased since May when it estimated that a person was dying every 48 seconds and dangerous delays in providing aid to millions on the brink of starvation. Lack of available data meant it was not possible to include South Sudan, which is in the grip of its own hunger crisis caused by flooding and conflict.

Across the four countries, more than 6 million children face or are already suffering acute malnutrition.

Parvin Ngala, Oxfam Horn East and Central Africa Regional Director, said: “The clock is ticking inexorably towards famine and more and more people are dying as hunger tightens its grip.

“After four seasons of failed rains, people are losing their struggle to survive – their livestock have died; crops have failed; and food prices have been pushed ever higher by the war in Ukraine. The alarm has been sounding for months, but donors are yet to wake up to the terrible reality. With another failed rains expected failure to act will turn a crisis into a full-scale catastrophe.

There is currently a total funding gap of more than $3 billion in UN appeals for Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan.

“The fact that we are still needing to use the term 'famine' in the 21st century is an abomination and absolute failure of humankind,” said Oxfam Ireland’s CEO Jim Clarken. With our extraordinary global capacity, resources and know how, we cannot in the 21st century look back and regret that there is more we could have done while children, women and men die from something as basic as a lack of food in a world of plenty.”

Prices of basic foodstuffs across the region have often doubled and sometimes tripled in recent months, driven by local shortages and the rise in global process exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

ENDS

Contact: Clare Cronin | clare.cronin@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 87 195 2551

Notes to editors:

  • Interviews, photos and testimony of people affected by the crisis plus B-roll available on request. 
  • To calculate the daily deaths, we used the crude death rate of (0.5-0.99) per 10,000 people in Crisis (IPC 3) levels of acute food insecurity as specified in The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Global Partners (2021), as per Technical Manual Version 3.1: Evidence and Standards for Better Food Security and Nutrition Decisions. Then, we subtracted the normal daily death rate of 0.22 per 10,000 people per day; this figure is based on data from the UN and from national, EU, and Pacific Community statistical offices.  
  • As of October 2022, across the three countries, the crude death rate is at least 880-2,421 per day, 0.61-1.68 per minute, i.e., between one every 1.6 minutes and one every 36 seconds. These figures are conservative, since they are based on the crude death rate for IPC 3, and do not take into account the higher crude death rates for IPC 4 and 5.  
  • Across Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, approximately 31,435,315 people are now estimated to be in Crisis or worse (IPC 3 and above) or similar levels of acute food insecurity. According to IPC analyses (see IPC Population Tracking Tool), 11,035,315 people across Kenya and Somalia are projected to face high levels of acute hunger (IPC 3 and above) in October-December 2022. There are no recent IPC analyses for Ethiopia so we have used a proxy figure of 20.4m people experiencing acute food insecurity across Ethiopia, as per the number of People in Need (PiN) of food security and livelihoods assistance in the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for Ethiopia, and as also used in the FAO-WFP Hunger Hotspot report for October 2022 to January 2023.
  • In May 2022, 22.4-23.4m people across Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia faced high levels of acute hunger (IPC 3 and above). This included:  7.4 million across Ethiopia (as per the IPC projection for July-September 2021); 5.5-6.5 million people in southeast Ethiopia (April 2022 estimate); 3.5 million people from Kenya (March-June 2022 IPC projection); and 6 million people in Somalia (April-June 2022 IPC projection). Across the three countries, the crude death rate was at least 627-1,802 per day, 0.44-1.25 per minute, i.e., between one every 2.5 minutes and one every 48 seconds.

Minister Donohoe Must Prioritise Poorest and Most Vulnerable at IMF and World Bank Meetings This Week

Austerity won’t help poor countries recover, especially if crippled by debt – Oxfam

87 per cent of International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Covid-19 loans require developing countries to adopt tough austerity measures. This is despite the fact that a deadly combination of Covid-19, conflict and climate, further exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, is pushing millions more people into poverty, hunger and destitution.

Ahead of his attendance at the Annual Meetings of the IMF and World Bank Group this week, Oxfam Ireland is urging Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe to prioritise protecting the world’s poorest and vulnerable.

Michael McCarthy Flynn, Head of Policy and Advocacy at Oxfam Ireland, said: “This will be one of Minister Donohoe’s last meetings as Finance Minister on the global stage and it’s crucial that he does not miss this opportunity to champion the needs of those most impacted by the economic fallout of Covid-19 and the global cost of living crisis, fuelled by the war in Ukraine.

“In the toughest of times, austerity measures are the worst possible solution. Instead of supporting recovery, they actually see a scaling down of essential social protection services for women, children, the elderly and those most vulnerable. For the world’s poorest, they’re not just disastrous – they’re deadly.

“Ireland and the EU have recognised that austerity policies are counterproductive, but yet they support their imposition on poorer countries. This undermines our support to poorer countries, including through our overseas development assistance programme.”

According to research from civil society organisations working to #EndAusterity, 85% of the world’s population will live in the grip of austerity measures by 2023. This trend is likely to continue until at least 2025, when 75 per cent of the global population (129 countries) could still be living under these conditions. 

Austerity doesn’t just dismantle social protection programmes - common measures include public spending cuts, the introduction of or increase in regressive consumption taxes such as VAT; cutting or capping the wages and number of teachers, health and local civil servants and eliminating subsidies; privatising or commercialising public services such as energy, water and public transport; and reducing pensions and workers’ rights.

Ultimately, austerity measures are implemented to reduce fiscal deficits in order for the country to keep paying back and servicing debt. In January this year, the World Bank estimated that 33 countries were already “in” or at “high” risk of debt distress.

McCarthy Flynn continued: “Poorer countries will not be able to recover from the economic fallout of the pandemic and the current global cost of living and food crisis if they are crippled by debt. At the Annual Meetings, Ireland must call for initiatives to cancel all debt payments in 2022 and 2023, including to multilateral institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank for all low and lower-middle-income countries that require it.

“Cancelling debt payments is the fastest and most effective way to keep money in countries that desperately need it and free up resources to tackle poverty, hunger, inequality and the devastating impact of the climate crisis.

“Ireland could also set an example on the world stage and show leadership by reallocating 100% of its $4.69 billion allocation of IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to countries most in need.”

Oxfam research shows that G20 countries’ commitment to reallocate $100 billion of their SDRs issued to help countries deal with the Covid-19 pandemic has only resulted in pledges of $36 billion to poorer countries to date.  

At the Annual Meetings of the IMF and World Bank Group, Oxfam Ireland is urging Ireland to call for the IMF to:

  • Help countries restructure their debts and support the cancellation of all low- and middle-income countries’ debt payments owed during the pandemic, and, where necessary, after the pandemic as well.
  • Work with donors to maximise aid flows and ensure budget commitments on overseas development aid and humanitarian appeals are upheld.
  • Encourage and support countries to make increases in social spending a permanent measure and establish the basis for securing quality, universal free public services and universal social protection.
  • Do all it can to maximize re-allocation of the IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) issued in 2021 from high- to lower-income countries, in ways which minimise debt and conditionality. The IMF should issue a further $650bn SDRs, reallocated to target low- and middle-income countries to enhance their ability to spend progressively.
  • Ireland should re-allocate 100% of its $4.69 billion allocation of IMF SDRs to countries most in need. It has yet to re-allocate any.

ENDS

CONTACT:

Alice Dawson Lyons | alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 83 198 1869
Clare Cronin | clare.cronin@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 87 195 2551

NOTES TO THE EDITOR

  • Oxfam spokespeople are available for comment and interview
  • Oxfam is part of the #EndAusterity coalition. To read their report, End Austerity: A global report on budget cuts and harmful social reforms, click here.
  • On Special Drawing Rights (SDRs):
    • SDRs are an easily accessible form of finance or cash for countries struggling to respond to multiple global shocks.
    • $650 billion-worth of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) were issued by the IMF in August 2021, as an easily accessible form of finance or cash for countries struggling with the global crisis. However, these were distributed according to quotas rather than needs, in line with IMF rules. This means that $400 billion went to high-income countries, $230 billion to middle-income countries, and just $21 billion to low-income countries, despite the tremendous needs of low-income countries.
    • Ireland has received $4.69 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) and Oxfam is calling on the Government to set an example by reallocating 100% of its allocation of IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to countries most in need. This could be done bilaterally, through conversion into hard currency, to low and middle-income countries in Africa and Asia which are most food insecure, or else multilaterally through a vehicle which strictly avoids conditionality and is concessional. Although barriers have been advanced to the reallocation of SDRs, such as to the ‘lending’ of them by the European Central Bank, we believe that what is most absent is the political will to effectively reallocate these much-needed emergency funds. This is where Ireland can provide global leadership.
    • Data on countries at risk of debt distress and can be found here- https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2022/02/15/greater-transparency-on-hidden-and-distressed-debt-can-reduce-global-financial-risks-and-support-recovery

Pages