By Jamie Livingstone

THE climate emergency is, quite literally, costing the earth for the world’s poorest communities. For them, it isn’t a distant, future, threat. Instead, climate change is a clear and present danger which is stealing the lives, homes and livelihoods of those who did least to cause it.

With landmark global climate talks – COP26 – scheduled in Glasgow in little over a year’s time, the Scottish Government has a unique chance to show the world that Scotland will not abandon those being hardest hit by climate change to their fate.

It must seize this chance by answering the call being made together by Oxfam and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the world’s poorest communities through significantly increasing the amount of financial support it offers them while encouraging other countries to do likewise.

Never has a show of such solidarity been more urgently needed.

At COP26, the international community will assess whether or not rich countries have fulfilled a promise made to developing countries more than a decade ago; that by 2020, they would mobilise $100 billion per year in climate finance to support poor countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change and reduce their emissions.

The trouble is, according to new Oxfam analysis released today, rich countries have been over-reporting the true value of this financial assistance to the tune of billions of dollars. To add insult to injury, most of this money is given as loans, adding to the crippling debts many developing countries already face.

What’s more, there is no dedicated fund to compensate poor countries for the homes that have become uninhabitable, the land that has become un-farmable, and the lives that have become unbearable thanks to climate change.

Take Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries, as an example. Last year, Cyclone Idai caused damage which amounted to around half the country’s national budget. However, insufficient aid forced Mozambique to take on a loan from the IMF of $118 million in order to begin rebuilding.

And the trouble is, so-called “once in a lifetime” storms like Cyclone Idai are becoming more frequent. Just a month after Cyclone Idai, Cyclone Kenneth ripped through Mozambique, causing even more devastation.

In the aftermath, Ajira, a farmer whom my Oxfam colleagues met outside the wreckage of his home, was in a state of despair. He said: “My fields were all destroyed by the storm. It will be very difficult to recover from this. I have a family of q0 people to support and we have nothing to eat.”

Before and at COP26, the lives of millions of people like Ajira are on the line. It’s no exaggeration to say that the talks in Glasgow will be a litmus test for humanity.

The time is well and truly up for wealthy countries who think that it’s acceptable to respond to the global climate emergency by simply making vague vows to cut their own emissions while using creative accounting to dodge their responsibility to support the world’s poorest cope with a climate crisis caused by the over-consumption of the richest.

Ahead of COP26, the Scottish Government must bolster its global climate leadership. Oxfam is calling for it to immediately boost Scotland’s innovative Climate Justice Fund, which has been frozen since 2016, to at least £10 million per year, by taxing high-emitters. This would send a powerful message to a watching world; climate change is not just a matter of science, technology or economics; it is a matter of justice.

Jamie Livingstone is Head of Oxfam Scotland and Director of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland