North-South climate finance much smaller than "we have been led to believe"

An important post on the Brookings Institute site a few days ago (U.N. clarification: North-South climate finance may be closer to lower bound of their estimate) indicates that there may be a lot less North / South climate finance on the table than we have been led to believe.  Click through for the details and the impeccable sources (Martin Stadelmann and Timmons Roberts) but in any case be clear about the bottom line:

“Today [Feb 26, 2015] the U.N. has published a “clarification note” where it explains that the actual number for North-South climate finance may be closer to the lower bound of the $40-175 billion mentioned in its “Biennial Assessment and Overview of Climate Finance Flows” report. . .  This is an important clarification. . .  Our own 2013 estimate for North-South private climate finance flows was $10-37 billion, comprising foreign direct investment for renewable energy, recycling, and environmental technology manufacturing.

If we take the $2-37 billion range for North-South private finance according to existing estimates . . . and add the U.N. estimate of $35-50 billion for North-South public finance . . . total North-South climate finance is somewhere between $37 billion and $87 billion, clearly closer to the lower bound of the U.N. estimate of $40-175 billion, and certainly less than half of the upper bound.”

Richest 1% will own more than all the rest by 2016

Wealth: Having it all and wanting more, a recent report from Oxfam International, is a milestone on the road to blunt realism.  To wit:

Global wealth is becoming increasing concentrated among a small wealthy elite. Data from Credit Suisse shows that since 2010, the richest 1% of adults in the world have been increasing their share of total global wealth.

In 2014, the richest 1% of people in the world owned 48% of global wealth, leaving just 52% to be shared between the other 99% of adults on the planet. Almost all of that 52% is owned by those included in the richest 20%, leaving just 5.5% for the remaining 80% of people in the world. If this trend continues of an increasing wealth share to the richest, the top 1% will have more wealth than the remaining 99% of people in just two years, as shown in the figure below, with the wealth share of the top 1% exceeding 50% by 2016.

Share of global wealth of the top 1% and bottom 99% respectively; the dashed lines project the 2010–2014 trend. By 2016, the top 1% will have more than 50% of total global wealth.

What to do? Oxfam makes the following suggestions:

Clamp down on tax dodging by corporations and rich individuals

Invest in universal, free public services such as health and education

Share the tax burden fairly, shifting taxation from labour and consumption towards    capital and wealth

Introduce minimum wages and move towards a living wage for all workers

Introduce equal pay legislation and promote economic policies to give women a fair deal

Ensure adequate safety-nets for the poorest, including a minimum income guarantee

Agree a global goal to tackle inequality

Would it be enough?  Nope.  Would it be a start?  Yep.  Have we got a chance of stabilizing the climate system (let alone the ecosystem) if we don’t think at least this big?   Nope.

Zero Carbon, Zero Poverty – The Climate Justice Way

This major new report, written for the Mary Robinson Foundation: Climate Justice by Sivan Kartha and EcoEquity’s own Paul Baer, breaks new ground in global climate justice theory and analysis.  Here, from the executive summary, are its main conclusions:

• There is strong evidence that a rapid and total or nearly-total carbon phase-out will be technically feasible, both for developed and developing countries.

• Economic analyses suggest that a rapid carbon phase-out can be achieved at an aggregate global cost that is affordable, and much less than the potential costs of climate impacts.

• Nonetheless, a rapid carbon phase-out will be very demanding for all countries, especially developing countries, and presents potential risks to human rights.

• Even greater risks to human rights than the risks posed by aggressive mitigation action arise from the profound impacts of climate change, especially if temperature increase exceeds 2°C, which becomes increasingly likely if mitigation is delayed.

• There is good reason to believe that risks posed by mitigation can be dealt with, provided there is an ambitious and fairly shared global effort to achieve a rapid carbon phase-out while preserving human rights, and a commitment to integrating human rights and equity in all national climate policies.

Is all of this already clear? Perhaps it is, or perhaps not. In any case, these points are rarely made as clearly, or defended as well, as they are here.