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Wealthy Nations Overstating Climate Aid, Report Finds

Wealthy nations are reportedly on track to mobilize $100 billion in climate finance for developing countries this year, but official figures obscure how much donor money is actually going toward climate projects, a report finds.

Rich countries have committed to directing $100 billion yearly to help poorer countries wean off fossil fuels and prepare for more extreme weather, a target that they are expected to hit for the first time in 2023. Thus far, however, more than half of all climate finance has taken the form of loans, rather than grants, according to a new Oxfam analysis. Wealthy countries have touted the full amount of their loans — money that must be paid back — rather than the much smaller amount of their loan subsidies.

Where rich countries have provided grants for climate change, that money has often come from existing aid funds. Oxfam found that donor countries have repurposed up to a third of their overseas aid rather than putting forward new money to help poorer nations cope with warming. And in many cases, funds have gone to projects that have little to do with slowing climate change or preparing for its effects.

In 2020, wealthy nations mobilized $83.3 billion in climate finance. But when accounting only for new donor money directed specifically at climate change, those countries put forward at most $24.5 billion, Oxfam found. Of this, $11.5 billion at most went to projects that would help poorer nations guard against worsening climate disasters.

“Don’t be fooled into thinking $11.5 billion is anywhere near enough for low- and middle-income countries to help their people cope with more and bigger floods, hurricanes, firestorms, droughts, and other terrible harms brought about by climate change,” Nafkote Dabi, Oxfam International’s climate policy lead, said in a statement. “People in the U.S. spend four times more than that each year feeding their cats and dogs.”

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