Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice

Rich nations falling short financially in helping poor countries struggling with climate change, say new calculations

New calculations released today by ActionAid assert rich countries’ financial responsibility for helping poor nations adapt to the climate crisis. 

In the report, Mind the Adaptation Gap, the organisation reveals rich countries are falling well short of providing adequate money to help people in poor countries already suffering the harsh impacts of climate change. The report is the first to calculate the actual amount that rich countries should give based on estimates for future global adaptation need, and to compare this to their adaptation finance contributions so far.

Brandon Wu, ActionAid’s Climate Finance Expert, said “This report provides a yardstick to measure whether countries are actually meeting their fair share. Up to now, rich nations have been sitting around plucking numbers out of thin air to pretend to deal with the climate crisis. Meanwhile people in poor countries are already battling its vicious storms.  This approach is no longer good enough.”

Mind the Adaptation Gap reveals the cost of helping poor people adapt to climate change, to many the largest emergency known to mankind, amounts to around 0.1 per cent of a rich nation’s GDP.  The 0.1 per cent cost of adaptation is relatively small compared with the seven per cent of GDP major economies spent on bailing out the banks after the 2008 financial crisis, or the two per cent of GDP that NATO members commit to spending annually on defence.

However, rich nations’ current contributions to helping poor countries adapt to the climate crisis fall far below the amount of money needed.  Rich countries must increase the total amount of grant-based finance provided for adaptation in developing countries from the $3-5 billion in 2013, to at least $50 billion per year by 2020, and at least $150 billion per year by 2025.

The report finds:

  • The USA needs to increase its contributions by more than 154 times, from the US$0.44bn it gave in 2013 to a fair share of US$67.5bn in 2025.
  • France, hosts of December’s landmark climate conference COP21, needs to increase its contributions by more than 75 times to meet its fair share, from the US$0.07bn in gave in 2013 to US$5.5bn in 2025.
  • European Union members collectively need to increase contributions by more than 11 times to meet their fair share, from US$3.2bn in 2013 to US$36.9bn in 2025.
  • Australia needs to increase its contributions by 20 times to meet its fair share, from US$0.22bn in 2013 to US$4.4bn in 2025.

To place measures on countries’ responsibility to assist poorer nations, which the report terms their “fair share” of adaptation finance, calculations are based on rich nations’ contribution to causing climate change (historical emissions) and their ability to assist financially (gross national income).

The report comes as world governments prepare for the UN climate conference COP21 in December where a landmark global deal on climate is expected to be reached. 

“People in poor countries can’t just be left alone to face a crisis they did not cause. Adequate climate finance will be a key barometer of success for the world’s leaders at the climate summit in Paris next month,” Wu concluded.

Poor countries already coping with the severe impacts of climate change continue to have serious concerns about the fairness of the proposed global deal on climate.

Editors' notes

  1. For more information, briefings and interviews, please contact Grace Cahill on +44 7734 131 626 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  2. Embargoed copies of the report, “Mind the Adaptation Gap: why rich countries must deliver their fair shares of adaptation finance in the new climate deal”, are available on request.
  3. From Tuesday 11 November an executive summary and full version of the report will be available here:
  4. For stories, VNR and photographs from The Gambia of how adaptation works in practice and the people it is helping, download here: