Role of Climate Finance in Fighting Global Poverty

In recent months climate change has been at the forefront of people’s minds. The Paris Agreement was a landmark in international discussions on how to tackle climate change and its effects. The recent Conference of the Parties (COP 22) in Marrakech shifted attention to its implementation, despite uncertainty around the incoming U.S. administration’s ongoing commitment to tackling climate change.

The Paris Agreement rightly recognises the links between climate change and poverty, as do the Sustainable Development Goals. Just under half of the global population living in extreme poverty is located in countries that are vulnerable to climate change. And this is important, as people in poverty are more vulnerable than others to climate-related shocks such as floods, droughts, extreme weather events and increases in tropical diseases. Indeed, the impacts of climate change have the potential to cause those who have moved out of poverty to fall back into it when a natural disaster strikes. Situations such as these often require an international humanitarian response, as some communities do not have the resilience levels to recover without assistance, and domestic governments often cannot finance the recovery in full either.

With climate change threatening to reverse the progress that has been made towards ending poverty, it is good news that in recent years international public resources to combat climate change have increased, with an estimated total of $48 billion flowing to developing countries in 2014. Development finance institutions are increasing their support to climate projects, and the level of official development assistance targeted towards climate change is increasing. This finance is preventative by nature, pre-empting the devastating impacts of climate change and building resilience to them.

But how well are the links between climate change and poverty reflected in the distribution of those resources?

Mei Ying Chan


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