Money is likely to be the central tension in the UN COP27 climate talks
As the UN climate conference opens in Egypt, the most critical talks are likely to focus on the soaring costs of limiting and adapting to global warming, especially in the world’s most vulnerable countries. . It’s been an ongoing contentious conversation for more than a decade.
In 2009, industrialized countries committed provide developing countries with $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020. The deal is rooted in the fact that developed countries generated most of the heat-trapping pollution in the atmosphere, while developing countries have already begun to bear a disproportionate share of the damage from extreme weather.
This deadline of 2020 has come and gone without the rich countries having kept their promises.
Global efforts to limit climate change are at risk without more help, experts say. Developing countries need money to switch to renewable energy so that their economies can grow without increasing greenhouse gas emissions. They also need funding to deal with the impacts they already face of rising temperatures. Scientists say it’s likely that climate change has helped fuel pakistan floods who killed at least 1,500 people this summer, and that he contributed to rain that caused flooding and landslides in South Africa.
Now, soaring inflation and an energy crisis caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine could complicate efforts to convince developed countries to meet their financial commitments. Not to mention the need to increase future obligations in accordance with the billions of dollars that developing countries will really have to prepare for a warmer Earth.
“The challenge is going to be, how do you maintain momentum when there are so many short-term crises and pressures, and yet the climate crisis is intensifying?” says Amar Bhattacharya, who is part of a group of independent experts which was convened ahead of COP27 to advise conference leaders on how to increase climate finance.
Despite the turmoil, rich countries face pressure to come up with the money they pledged to keep developing countries on board efforts to cut global emissions, says Bella Tonkonogy, director of the Climate Policy Initiative , a non-profit organization that works with governments and businesses to promote economic growth while fighting climate change.
“Developed countries know that if we are to achieve our global emission reduction targets that everyone has signed up to, developed countries need to have credibility and trust needs to be built with developing countries,” says Tonkonogy. “And this issue of funding is one of, if not the most critical, part of building that trust.”
Observers call for rethinking climate finance
The latest count from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that developing countries received $83.3 billion from public and private sources in 2020.
But even with the funding provided so far, there have been problems and stumbling blocks.
Most of the money is channeled in the form of loans, which critics say is adding to the debt burden of governments that are already on a fragile financial footing.
Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, said developing countries should at least have access to loans on the same favorable terms offered to their counterparts in the developed world.
“We took on debt for COVID, we took on debt for climate, and we took on debt now in order to tackle this difficult time with the inflationary crisis and the lack of certainty in the supply of goods,” Mottley told the United Nations in September. “Why, therefore, does the developing world now have to look to find money within seven to ten years when others have been given longer terms to repay their money?”
As an alternative, calls are being made to provide more climate finance in the form of grants, which do not have to be repaid, says Gaia Larsen, director of climate finance access and deployment at the World Resources Sustainable Finance Center. Institute.
“[Hopefully]in the future, there will be ways to ensure that countries are able to act on the climate and that they are able to do so without getting themselves into more trouble in terms of debt levels and ability to pay for whatever they need to pay,” says Larsen.
There is little funding to help poorer countries cope with the warming that is already happening
There are also problems with how the money is allocated, according to climate finance experts.
Some the impacts of climate change are irreversibleAccording to the UN, even if countries could immediately stop emitting greenhouse gases, the effects of global warming would still be felt for decades.
Yet most of the funding that is doled out goes to projects such as wind and solar farms that aim to limit further increases in global temperatures. This has left a huge shortfall for projects such as building flood defenses or introducing drought-tolerant crops that can help poorer countries cope with the warming that has already happened.
Meanwhile, it can be “difficult” for the most vulnerable countries to access funding, Larsen says. The process may require data and technical expertise to show how climate finance would be used and how it would benefit the climate, and some developing countries lack the resources for such analyses.
“We can’t stop focusing on mitigation because otherwise adaptation costs will skyrocket,” says Mafalda Duarte, CEO of Climate Investment Fund, which works with multilateral development banks. But “we have already locked in other impacts on the road,” she says. “And who bears the cost, disproportionately? It is up to the poorest and developing countries.
Kerry says developed countries will meet funding pledge next year
For a year, US President Joe Biden has been pushing to quadruple US climate funding for developing countries to more than $11 billion a year starting in 2024. About half of that money is to be appropriated by Congress.
John Kerry, the US president’s special envoy for climate change, has hinted that the president’s goal could be jeopardized depending on the outcome of the US midterm elections.
Still, Kerry says developed countries will hit their $100 billion funding target next year.
“Simply put, we as developed countries have to stick to the financial targets that we have set for ourselves,” Kerry told the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC, in October.
But observers say those goals are just a drop in the ocean. BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, said emerging economies will need at least $1 trillion per year eliminate or offset their carbon emissions.
“[Raising] ambition in a way focused on real results is what I hope will come from the COP,” says Bhattacharya, “rather than the $100 billion rhetoric.”
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