COP25 must ensure help for the countries most affected by the climate crisis

Ahead of COP25, IIED is calling for urgent climate action along with focused support for the most vulnerable.

News, 02 December 2019
UN climate change conference (COP25)
A series of pages related to IIED's activities at the 2019 UNFCCC climate change summit in Spain (COP25)
Two women look out over the rising sea water

The sea in the Bay of Bengal is rising, affecting the hundreds of thousands of villagers living on the low islands in the south (Photo: Espen Rasmussen/PANOS)

Almost a quarter of a century after the first Conference of the Parties under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the urgency needed to address climate change is greater than ever.

Ahead of the 25th UN climate change talks (COP25) in Madrid, which begins today (2 December), IIED director Andrew Norton has stressed the importance of the negotiations: “The alarming rise in global devastation from climate change demands governments agree urgent action in Madrid. Decisions need to put the world on course for no more than a 1.5°C temperature rise above pre-industrial levels. We cannot afford to go higher.”

COP25 was due to take place in Santiago, but the event was switched to Spain's capital following Chile's announcement that it would not be hosting the climate talks. This year’s meeting will take the next steps in the UN climate change process in preparation for 2020, a milestone date when countries are due to report on how they will meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Norton said more needs to be done, and done quickly: “This is the final meeting before the Paris Agreement comes into force. All countries need to do more. Even those that have been ambitious must move further and faster to tackle the climate crisis and meet their citizens’ demands for increased action.

“It is unacceptable that emissions continue to rise. Governments need to ensure that every policy they have – including for aid, trade and agriculture – is in line with tackling climate change.

“Despite repeated warnings, too many governments continue their fossil fuel addiction. It is driving the climate emergency and hurting hundreds of millions of women, children and men – many in the poorest, most vulnerable countries.”

The 47 least developed countries (LDCs) have contributed the least to global warming, yet suffer disproportionately from the consequences. Almost seven in ten of the deaths from extreme climate events happen in LDCs.

Too little international climate finance is reaching the local level where people need it most. IIED estimates that less than 10% of the US$17 billion of climate finance committed from international climate funds by 2016 were prioritised for local-level activities.

For example, IIED research found that families in rural Bangladesh spend almost $2 billion a year on preventing climate-related disasters or repairing damage caused by climate change. This is twice as much as the Bangladesh government spends, and nearly 12 times the amount Bangladesh receives in multilateral international climate financing.

Norton added: “Next year is the point donors have committed to increase climate finance support to more than $100 billion a year. For it to be effective, rich countries must learn recent lessons and support developing countries’ own vision for climate responses and make sure more money reaches the local level. They need to agree measures that further increase climate finance, ensure it is more flexible and addresses people’s priorities.

“This is crucial to enable people to manage forests, wetlands, rangelands and other local ecosystems on which they depend for their livelihoods and wellbeing.”

IIED researchers and partners will be active throughout COP25, including at official side events during the fortnight.

The institute is also one of the organising partners of the 17th Development & Climate Days, which takes place on 8 December in the middle weekend of COP25. The event will explore the ambitious plans and transformational systems that are needed to deliver climate resilience for all.