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Donors Helping to Tackle Climate Change

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How climate change, associated with increased carbon dioxide levels, has affected plant growthBy Richard Johnson
IDN-InDepth NewsReport

PARIS (IDN) - How to scale up, deliver and better direct international public climate finance has been a subject of discussion at the global climate change conference in Durban, South Africa. New data show that the member countries of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) apportioned up to USD 22.9 billion, or 15 percent of total official development assistance (ODA), to climate change mitigation and adaptation in developing countries in 2010.

"Mitigation" and "adaptation" are two important terms that are fundamental in the climate change debate. Climate mitigation is any action taken to permanently eliminate or reduce the long-term risk and hazards of climate change to human life and property.

Climate adaptation refers to the ability of a system to adjust to climate change (including climate variability and extremes) to moderate potential damage, to take advantage of opportunities, or to cope with the consequences. While mitigation tackles the causes of climate change, adaptation tackles the effects of the phenomenon. A successful adaptation can reduce vulnerability by building on and strengthening existing coping strategies.

OECD data show that one-third of the estimated climate-change-related aid in 2010 went to support adaptation (USD 9.3 billion) while two-thirds was for mitigation (USD 17.6 billion, up 69 percent from 2009).

These estimates reflect aid activities in which, according to OECD, climate change mitigation or adaptation was either the principal or a significant objective. About 60 percent of the total climate-related aid had mitigation or adaptation as the principal objective.

"Measurement of climate-related development aid by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) is an important contribution to the tracking of climate financing," says Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the 34-nation grouping of industrialized and a few emerging economies.

"We have been tracking aid in support of mitigation since 1998. This is the first time we are also reporting on support for adaptation to have a more complete picture of climate change related aid. Going forward, we urge donors to step up bringing in both mitigation and adaptation considerations into their development policies," Gurría, a Mexican national, adds.

According to OECD, in certain cases, funds can be tagged as both mitigation and adaptation-related. So it is important to avoid double-counting. Of the total USD 22.9 billion in finance, an estimated USD 4 billion supported both mitigation and adaptation objectives.

"All our aid data are publicly available, bringing transparency and accountability to what countries and multilateral institutions are doing in this area," Gurria assures.

The OECD, which claims to have been working on climate change economics and policy since the late 1980s to identify and implement least-cost policy responses, is also advising governments on how to design and use innovative financial instruments – such as green bonds – to attract new sources of capital, including from pension funds and other institutional investors.

The organisation has also recently launched the climate change chapter of the Environmental Outlook to 2050 and is implementing its Green Growth Strategy.

Rio Conventions

The developed countries that signed the three Rio Conventions in 1992 committed themselves to assist developing countries in the implementation of these Conventions. Since 1998 the DAC has monitored aid targeting the objectives of the Rio Conventions through its 'Creditor Reporting System' (CRS) using the so called "Rio markers".

The Rio marker on climate change mitigation was established by the DAC in close collaboration with the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to track aid flows that support the implementation of the Convention.

In December 2009 the DAC approved a new marker to also track aid in support of climate change adaptation. This complements the climate change mitigation marker, and thus allows the presentation of a more complete picture of climate-change-related aid.

First data on the new marker, relating to 2010 flows, will become available at the end of 2011, the OECD says in a background paper. Work is on going to extend the coverage of DAC statistics on climate finance to bilateral non-concessional flows and multilateral flows, it adds.

At the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) in Copenhagen in 2009, developed counties agreed to provide "new and additional resources" for adaptation and mitigation "approaching USD 30 billion for the period 2010-12".

For the longer term, developed countries committed to "a goal of mobilising jointly USD 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries" through a "wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance".

The DAC helps monitor the implementation of these commitments by making available aggregate statistics on climate change-related aid as illustrated in this note. Information on the underlying projects can be accessed in the DAC’s online database.

Every aid activity reported to the CRS is screened and marked as either (i) targeting the Conventions as a 'principal objective' or a 'significant objective', or (ii) not targeting the objective.

Biodiversity-related aid is defined as activities that promote at least one of the three objectives of the Convention: the conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of its components (ecosystems, species or genetic resources), or fair and equitable sharing of the benefits of the utilisation of genetic resources.

Desertification-related aid is defined as activities that combat desertification or mitigate the effects of drought in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas through prevention and/or reduction of land degradation, rehabilitation of partly degraded land, or reclamation of desertified land.

limate change mitigation-related aid is defined as activities that contribute to the objective of stabilisation of greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system by promoting efforts to reduce or limit GHG emissions or to enhance GHG sequestration.

In December 2009 the DAC members approved a new marker to also track aid in support of climate change adaptation. This new marker will complement the existing climate change mitigation marker, and thus allow presentation of a more complete picture of aid in support of developing countries' efforts to address climate change. [IDN-InDepthNews – December 8, 2011]

Image: How climate change, associated with increased carbon dioxide levels, has affected plant growth.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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