Response to Climate Change “Grossly Inadequate” – Roundtable on Migration

Posted on Friday, 18 November 2022
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Migration linked to climate change did not get the attention it deserves at COP27. The Global North must accept responsibility for its role in driving climate change and abide by their commitments made to schemes which address worsening conditions for those in the Global South – according to the Roundtable on Migration in Our Common Home.

COP27 marks thirty years since the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

As the world grapples with the devastating consequences of intensifying climate change, this policy brief examines how climate change is impacting migration, displacement and food security. As COP27 draws to a close, this policy brief looks at the pledges made by Ireland, as well as Ireland’s obligations to Official Development Assistance (ODA) and Climate Finance and the compelling argument in favour of Loss and Damage funding made by the Global south for over three decades.

Most Significant Physical Change

Climate change is the most significant physical change in our global environment that is already having a negative impact on human habitation and agricultural patterns, which in turn can destabilise societies thus providing a motivating factor for migration. The international evidence regarding climate change and the impact of human activity is irrefutable. The frequency and severity of extreme weather events have been made up to nine times more likely by human-caused global warming.

Climate change has indisputable and severe impacts on food production since areas which experience droughts, floods or seawater inundation cannot sustain agriculture. A reduction in the levels of food produced can lead to a scarcity of supply especially where families rely on subsistence agriculture. and the cost of accessible food rises when food supply and production are undermined. As a result, individuals who cannot afford food have fewer options to access it.

As COP27 draws to a close, the Roundtable expresses its disappointment at the lack of ambition evident in Ireland’s response and the repackaging of previously announced, and inadequate, policies.

The Irish Government must acknowledge and accept that ODA, Climate Finance, and Loss and Damage, are three separate obligations and the allocation to each must be separated out in the annual Budget process. This would allow for greater transparency and accountability as we move towards targets which should be sufficiently ambitious to meet the challenge.

Policy Recommendations

The policy brief sets out makes recommendations at an international, EU and national level.

Response to COP27

In his address at COP27, Taoiseach Michael Martin confirmed Ireland’s Climate Finance commitments of €225 million per year by 2025 in order to assist countries experiencing climate change challenges as set out in the Government’s Climate Finance Roadmap launched earlier this year. Within this figure, €10 million of the overall commitment is to support the Global Shield initiative, as announced at COP27. The Global Shield is an insurance scheme for climate risk finance and preparedness.

While the Global Shield initiative is a sign that countries recognise the need to do something on loss and damage, this is a distraction. Insurance companies, by their very nature, are either reluctant to provide coverage, or reluctant to pay out. An initiative that involves Northern countries subsidising Northern-owned insurance corporations should not be mistaken for loss and damage finance that supports communities on the front lines of the climate crisis.

To be effective, our efforts must be linked to our responsibility for the causes of climate change.

International-level Recommendation: Loss & Damage

A comprehensive and realistic plan for reparations for the loss and damage caused to Global South countries from climate change driven by the Global North must be developed, based on the ‘polluter pays’ principle. International actors must recognise that ODA and Climate Finance is not enough if internally displaced people are to rebuild their communities and livelihoods. We recommend that the Irish government and EU support and invest in a specific UN funding facility for loss and damage. As a step towards quantifying loss and damage, we recommend the promotion of resources such as the Loss & Damage Handbook for community-led assessment of climate-induced loss and damage: a 7-step guide to support communities to take charge of this assessment for themselves.

EU-level Recommendation: A Force for Change

As a Member of the EU, Ireland is able to advise and contribute to EU policy regarding climate change. As such, Ireland should campaign within the EU institutions for climate change action and funding to ensure all countries pay their fair share, based not only on their economies, but on their contributions to emissions.

The EU should contribute a fair share of climate finance, calculated in accordance with the ODI mechanism or other transparent calculation. The EU climate finance share to Least Developed Countries has reduced to less than 20 per cent and, of that, only one third of private finance goes towards adaptation.

It is crucial that climate finance is additional to ODA. These are different commitments made under different instruments. However, ODA should also be climate-proofed. Women and small holder farmers are already impacted by the climate crisis, and so there should be a focus on grants, adaptation and mechanisms that reach women and smallholders.

The EU should support a Just Transition in Agriculture in the EU and Global South, this should include strengthening its political and financial support to agroecology and women smallholder farmers in the Global South, whilst making sure women and civil society are engaged in the roll-out of the new EU Funding Framework (NDICI) and that gender mainstreaming and intersectionality is addressed (in line with GAP III).

The EU should support strengthening the Committee on World Food Security and other democratic, inclusive spaces of food governance, and not allow multi-stakeholderism and corporate-led initiatives to undermine these and ensure that women, particularly smallholder farmers should be heard at these spaces.

National-level Recommendation: Climate Finance and ODA

The Irish Government must acknowledge and accept that ODA, Climate Finance, and Loss and Damage, are three separate obligations and the allocation to each must be separated out in the annual Budget process. This would allow for greater transparency and accountability as we move towards targets which should be sufficiently ambitious to meet the challenge.

The Irish Government should continue its focus at the UN level of focusing on hunger, climate and conflict, and adaption to push for further use its position within international organisations, such as our current place on the UN Security Council, to promote climate action at all levels and for richer countries to take responsibility for our historic and current greenhouse gas emissions which are the driving cause of global climate change.

This Policy Brief was produced by the Migrations in Our Common Home Roundtable. Members of the Roundtable are:

  • Karol Balfe, ActionAid
  • Rory O’Neill, Irish Refugee Council
  • David Moriarty, Jesuit Refugee Service
  • Jo McCarthy, PBVM, Nano Nagle Place
  • John McGeady, OLA Justice Office
  • Sheila Curran, RSM
  • Anthony Kelly, SMA
  • Gerry Forde, SMA Justice Office
  • Colette Bennett, Social Justice Ireland
  • Dr. Seán Healy, Social Justice Ireland
  • Sibéal Devilly, Social Justice Ireland
  • Colm Byrne, Trócaire
  • Prof. John Barry, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Dr. Dug Cubie, UCC
  • Victoria Oluwatobi Isa Daniel, PhD Researcher, NUI Maynooth