Last year the UK pledged £75 million to Bangladesh, often cited as one of the countries that will be hit very hard by climate change. Even modest sea level rises could flood 20% of land. The cash will be used for things like raising homes in high-risk flood areas, provide flood-resilient crops, and a national early warning system for cyclones.
Gordon Brown made a widely praised speech a few weeks ago promising that the $100bn needed every year for adaptation would come “separately from and additional to our promises on aid”. He did leave a small loophole in there though, saying that 10% could come from existing budgets.
It turns out however that the £75m for Bangladesh was announced previously under existing DFID budgets, so has already been accounted for and doesn’t therefore qualify under the additionality principle, which I suppose is fair enough. A little confusing though…
This additionality principle is something which NGOs have been calling for ever since financing for adaptation was set to become a reality. The argument runs as follows: since rich countries bear the bulk or responsibility for causing climate change, adaptation finance for poor countries should be over and above what has already been promised to them in terms of aid that is not related to climate.
Meanwhile, the Tories have not explicitly committed to Brown’s pledge that adaptation financing will be additional to ODA. It is perhaps telling that in their Green Paper on development (launched last week), they say they will “mainstream” adaptation, but makes no mention of a cap, like the 10% proposed by Brown.