Oxfam Ireland Homepage
  • 4 min read
  • Published: 7th June 2022
  • Press Release by Christine Bale

800% increase in funding needed

for extreme weather emergencies over last 20 years

Rich countries, corporates and individuals most responsible for climate crisis must foot the bill – new Oxfam report

The amount of money needed for UN humanitarian appeals involving extreme weather events like floods or drought is now eight times higher than 20 years ago — and donors are failing to keep up, reveals a new Oxfam brief today. Average annual extreme weather-related humanitarian funding appeals for 2000-2002 were at least $1.6 billion and rose to an average $15.5 billion in 2019-2021, an 819 percent increase.

Rich countries responsible for most of today’s climate change impacts have met only an estimated 54 percent of these appeals since 2017, leaving a shortfall of up to $33 billion. Rich and industrialised countries have contributed around 92 percent of excess historical emissions and 37 percent of current emissions, whereas Africa’s current emissions stand at just 4 percent.

The countries with the most recurring appeals against extreme weather crises — over 10 each — include Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan and Zimbabwe. Across Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Ethiopia more than 24.4 million people now face severe levels of hunger and food insecurity – together, those countries are responsible for just 0.1 percent of current global emissions.

Speaking on the launch of the report, Footing the Bill, Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland CEO, said: “The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events due to climate change is putting more and more pressure on an already over-stretched and underfunded humanitarian system. And it is the people in poorer communities and low-income countries who are paying the heaviest costs. Destruction from these storms, droughts and floods is also increasing inequality; those most vulnerable are hardest hit and yet they lack the systems and funding that wealthier countries have to cope with the effects.

“Make no mistake, this is a disaster of our own making. Human activity has created a world 1.1˚C warmer than pre-industrial levels and more alarming still, we will overshoot the 1.5˚C safety threshold on current projections. If we do not heed the warnings now and cut emissions, our shameful inaction will have catastrophic consequences for humanity.”

The UN appeals focus on the most urgent humanitarian needs, but that barely scratches the surface of the real costs in loss and damage that climate change is now wreaking on countries’ economies. The economic cost of extreme weather events in 2021 alone was estimated to be $329 billion globally, the third highest year on record. This is nearly double the total aid given by rich nations to the developing world that year.

The costs of loss and damage to low- and middle-income countries — for instance, the money needed to rebuild homes and hospitals or provide shelter, food and emergency cash transfers after a cyclone — could reach between $290 billion and $580 billion a year by 2030. This does not account for the catastrophic loss of life, cultures and ways of living, and biodiversity.

Clarken continued: “For many of the countries hardest hit by climate change, it is a case of crisis on top of crisis, as they are already facing conflict, the economic fallout of COVID-19 and now the global food crisis further triggered by the war in Ukraine. They cannot be expected to foot the bill for climate-driven loss and damage that they are not responsible for. Rich countries, rich people and big corporations most responsible for causing climate change must pay for the harm they are causing.”

Rich industrialised nations have stymied loss and damage finance negotiations for years. At COP26 in Glasgow, they rejected developing countries’ calls for a new finance facility to address loss and damage and instead agreed to a three-year ‘Glasgow Dialogue’ to discuss future arrangements.

Ahead of 56th sessions of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) in Germany, which includes the first ‘Glasgow Dialogue’ on loss and damage since COP26, Oxfam urges:

  • Rich country governments to pledge bilateral finance to address loss and damage, in addition to existing climate finance and ODA commitments.
  • All governments to agree to establish and fund a finance facility for loss and damage at COP27, with annual contributions based on responsibility for causing climate change and capacity to pay.
  • All governments to agree to make loss and damage a core element of the UNFCCC’s Gender Action Plan.

Download Oxfam’s brief Footing the Bill here.


CONTACT: Alice Dawson Lyons | +353 (0) 83 198 1869 | alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org

Notes to editors

  • Photos and video from Burkina Faso and Guatemala are available for download.
  • The countries with the most recurring appeals linked to extreme weather (Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Chad, Sudan and Zimbabwe) account for 1.4 percent of global emissions.
  • According to Aon, the total economic cost of extreme weather events in 2021 is estimated at $329 billion globally, the third highest year on record, behind 2017 and 2005.
  • Rich nations provided $178.9 billion in official development assistance (ODA) in 2021. This is equivalent to 0.33 percent of donors’ combined gross national income (GNI) and still below the UN target of 0.7% ODA to GNI.
  • According to estimations by Markandya and González-Eguino, the estimated costs of loss and damage by 2030 range from $290 billion to $580 billion, and according to Climate Analytics from $400 to $431 billion.