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September 19, 2023

At the start of New York Climate Week, and on the eve of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Ambition Summit, to be held on Wednesday, September 20, in New York, ActionAid’s climate experts share their expectations: 

Brandon Wu, Director of Policy and Campaigns, ActionAid USA, said:

“Over the weekend, an estimated 600,000 people marched in over 60 countries – including 75,000 in New York City on Sunday – demanding urgent climate action from the world’s governments. One of the core demands is on the need to support communities in poorer countries who are already faced with devastating climate impacts.

From the floods in Libya to droughts, cyclones, and more floods elsewhere in Africa, to lethal heat waves across Asia, it’s never been clearer why money is needed for communities to recover and rebuild. This is precisely why the UN established a ‘Loss and Damage Fund’ at last year’s COP27 climate negotiations in Egypt. This year, the UN must agree on the specifics of how the Fund will work and rich countries must begin putting money into it.

In New York this week, rich countries should send a political signal that they are supportive of a large-scale, robust Loss & Damage Fund that can respond to climate disasters in developing countries at the scale of tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars per year. They will have two opportunities to do so: the Climate Ambition Summit itself on Wednesday, and the Loss & Damage Ministerial meeting on Friday. 

Establishing the Fund at COP27 was a major victory, but only the first step. Now countries must follow through and deliver. The lives and livelihoods of literally millions of people who have had no role in creating the climate crisis are at stake.”

Teresa Anderson, Global Lead on Climate Justice, ActionAid International, said:

“The IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report, published earlier this year, spelled out that only urgent and radical climate action can help to avert a bleak future for our planet. The UNSG Climate Ambition Summit is a key opportunity to harness momentum, steer us away from traps and pitfalls, get us pointing in the right direction, and gather the necessary speed.

The session to strengthen credibility of Net Zero targets rightly acknowledges that many big polluters have tried to scam the system by carrying on polluting-as-usual, while simply pledging to buy carbon offsets to make weak claims of carbon neutrality. After the UNSG’s ‘Integrity Matters’ report exposed this hoax last year, the session that celebrates ‘first movers and doers’ on net zero needs to live up to the report’s own standards. At a minimum, leaders need to show clear, ambitious, and just strategies to wean our planet off fossil fuels.

When it comes to climate action, the global financial system is in the spotlight like never before. In spite of all the evidence of our planet’s fragile future, the world’s banks continue to finance the two biggest causes of climate change – fossil fuels and industrial agriculture. Since the Paris Agreement, banks have funnelled trillions to these industries operating in the Global South, compounding the harm to communities suffering the impacts of climate change. Banks have so much culpability for causing this crisis, and so much power to address it. They have the power to turn off the taps, but instead they are fuelling the fire.”

Notes to editors

ActionAid’s recent report “How the Finance Flows: The Banks Fueling the Climate Crisis” found that in the seven years since the Paris Agreement was signed, the world’s banks have provided US$ 370 billion to industrial agriculture corporations operating in the Global South, and US$ 3.2 trillion to fossil fuel corporations operating in the Global South. When taken as an annual average, and compared to the real value of climate finance in 2020, this means that more than 20 times more financing is going to the causes of climate in the Global South, than to the solutions.

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About ActionAid  

ActionAid is a global federation working with more than 15 million people living in more than 40 of the world’s poorest countries. We want to see a just, fair, and sustainable world, in which everybody enjoys the right to a life of dignity, and freedom from poverty and oppression. We work to achieve social justice and gender equality and to eradicate poverty.  

Let’s hold banks accountable

It's time to step up and make a difference in the world of climate finance! Citibank, Barclays, and HSBC are pouring tons of money into industries that are driving our planet towards climate catastrophe. They're investing in fossil fuels and industrial agriculture, which are the top two contributors to increasing greenhouse gas emissions. What's worse, their investments are wrecking the environment and abusing human rights.