Climate change: $1.3b aid commitment slammed by National, lauded by Oxfam
The Government’s decision to quadruple its international climate aid programme has been criticised by National.
But Oxfam have endorsed the move as long overdue.
The Government announced on Monday morning it would look to spend $1.3 billion in climate-related aid funding over the next four years, four times how much it had been planning to spend.
At least half of the funding would go towards the Pacific.
* Climate change: New Zealand to quadruple climate cash for poor countries to $1.3 billion
* Climate change: ‘We vulnerable countries are not asking for much’
* New Zealand’s Paris emissions reduction target inequitable and insufficient, Oxfam says
Climate Change Minister James Shaw made the announcement not long before leaving for the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, saying New Zealand’s aid commitment would basically match the UK’s per-capita contribution.
He said it went far further towards a pledge wealthy nations made in 2016 to raise US$100b a year (NZ$141b) for climate finance.
“Developed nations must step up and deliver on that promise. It’s time for Aotearoa New Zealand to do our fair share,” Shaw said.
This would go towards mitigation projects to manage the impacts of climate change, projects to lower emissions, and to climate science.
Shaw said some countries in the Pacific particularly exposed to sea-level rise and worsening extreme weather events were already spending large swaths of their budgets on fighting climate change, and would need help.
“The Cook Islands estimated that 25 per cent of their annual budget is spent on climate-related costs – whether it is cleaning up after the last cyclone or trying to build stronger infrastructure and housing to resist the next cyclone,” Shaw said.
“If you apply that to New Zealand that would be more than we spend on health or education – that’s what they spend on climate-related costs.”
The money will be spent over 2022-2025 and is a pre-budget commitment for the Budget 2022.
National’s climate change spokesman Stuart Smith said it was the wrong time to spend the money.
“The $1.3b contribution is a four-fold increase to what was previously given. At a time when our biggest city remains heavily restricted and businesses are struggling, is now really the right time to be increasing our overseas aid?” Smith said.
“Our Pacific neighbours are hugely important to us. Reducing the total amount of climate aid but giving 100 per cent of it to the Pacific would be far more meaningful, given the circumstances.”
Shaw said the Government was easily capable of “walking and chewing gum at the same time” and could spend what it needed to cushion the effects of Covid-19 while not shirking on foreign aid.
“The climate crisis has not gone away just because there is a pandemic,” Shaw said.
New Zealand has borrowed to get through the pandemic but still has far lower public debt than most of its peers.
Oxfam Aotearoa boss Rachael Le Mesurier welcomed the news.
The organisation has previously criticised New Zealand’s contribution, saying that it ranked 21 of 23 high-income countries for its financial commitment to climate aid.
“This new commitment will go a long way to increasing New Zealand’s ranking. It would put Aotearoa New Zealand just within the range of what Oxfam concluded would be its fair share towards a collective goal to mobilise $100 billion a year for developed countries,” Le Mesurier said.