8 Oct 2015

Priority shift needed for Pacific climate financing - Caritas

7:51 am on 8 October 2015
Tebikenikora, a village in the Pacific island nation of Kiribati. September 5 2011

Locals in Tebikenikora, a village in the Pacific island nation of Kiribati. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the area in 2011 to discuss villagers’ concerns about the effects of climate change on their low-lying land. Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The director of Caritas Aotearoa Julianne Hickey says New Zealand is not prioritising people most in need with its climate financing in the Pacific.

A report released by Caritas concludes that only half of New Zealand's climate aid dollars are being spent on climate adaptation projects which support those most vulnerable to climate change.

The report states the other half is spent on infrastructure, tourism and trade.

Ms Hickey says from her experience in the field, there is little evidence of funding where it is most needed.

"We think the priorities for climate change finance should be about those who are most vulnerable and most impacted by it and those are the people who, for food and water, it is a life and death situation and the climate finance is not reaching them."

Julianne Hickey says Caritas is now calling for the government to commit more funding to climate change adaptation efforts in the Pacific in order to bridge the gap between what is needed and what is currently being spent.

She is hoping the New Zealand government makes a stronger pledge at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.

"Our emission targets at the moment that we've put in for the Paris agreements are pathetic and paltry and we really need to strengthen those and we believe that New Zealand should review and recommit to stronger emissions."

However Ms Hickey says Caritas is pleased that a significant proportion of New Zealand's climate funding goes towards bilateral, rather than global, projects.