Placing climate change at the front and centre of the UK Aid strategy and funding is hugely welcome and the timing could not be more perfect. In recent months the world has been witnessing two of the most powerful and devastating cyclones to hit the poorest countries crushing the lives of those who have contributed little to the causes of climate change and extreme weather events but are suffering the most.
In a report published today, the 8th of May 2019, UK Aid for Combating Climate Change (PDF) the House of Commons International Development Committee calls for a major change in Government aid strategy to meet the scale of the global climate emergency. Our team at the Centre for Climate Justice at Glasgow Caledonian University have played an instrumental role in providing some of the evidence that underpins this report and it is great to see that our ideas have not only been embraced but recommended to be adopted.
For example, we have explained the concept of climate justice, which recognises humanity’s responsibility for the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on the poorest and most vulnerable people in society by critically addressing inequality and promoting transformative approaches to address the root causes of climate change. We discuss how climate finance can be used more effectively to ensure that it reaches the poorest and most vulnerable, and we have provided insights in to what the potential implications, impacts and benefits of the UK, and other donor countries could be from their adopting a ‘climate justice’ approach to programming of aid spending.
What I find really interesting and inspiring is that this report calls for using the concept of climate justice as a guide for directing International Climate Finance (ICF) spending to be consistent with poverty reduction and for incorporating climate justice into aid programme design as highlighted in paragraph 69. This is a significant step change in how aid spending is currently managed with little monitoring and evaluation on how ICF reduces poverty and benefits the most vulnerable.
Critically, it is encouraging to see that the UK Government seems to be on par with reforming global climate financing structures such as the Green Climate Fund to improve efficiency in determining who gets access to finance and how that is delivered. This is in line with what we have been saying and advocating for at the Centre that “the current UNFCCC climate finance structure makes it difficult for developing countries to access finance, and discourages local-level involvement”. As a result, the projects that are being funded are predominantly “large-scale projects with little benefit to recipient countries” [paragraph 140].
The report brings to the reader’s attention climate migration and displacement, an area of work that is at the heart of our research portfolio the Centre for Climate Justice. The findings of our doctoral student Sennan Mattar‘s PhD work highlights that “international policy frameworks, aid interventions, and national instruments do not adequately address the needs of people forced to move as a result of climate change” [paragraph 169]. And it seems that this is partly the result of a lack of international frameworks for addressing migration and displacement as a result of climate change. It is encouraging to see that The UK Government is advocating to play a role in supporting research and improving data on climate migration, as well as leading conversations around how aid delivery structures and international frameworks may need to adapt.
The findings and recommendations provided by this report are clear and the time is right to act now. The poorest and most vulnerable in the world cannot wait for another climate related disaster to hit. They need protected now and we must do all we can through effective ICF mechanisms to support them and to help re-build lives, build resilience to any future extreme weather events and work towards sustainable development and a climate just world.
As explained in the report, the climate justice approach is in “complete harmony with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) motto of ‘leave no one behind’, and actively seeks to reach and engage with those most impacted by climate change”. We really are living in a climate emergency with the World Health Organisation highlighting that climate change is expected to cause an additional 250 000 deaths between 2030 and 2050 from heat stress, malnutrition, malaria and diarrhoea if we do not act now.
We will be discussing some of the intricate challenges that lie ahead at the World Forum on Climate Justice, which takes place in Glasgow in June 2019. If you can’t make it along, you can follow the discussions on Twitter #ClimateJustice2019.