What's with the Climate?

Voices of a Subcontinent grappling with Climate Change

Climate Finance Missing from the Agenda: How do We Achieve Equitable Deal?

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by Ram Kishan

Many UNFCCC stakeholders see climate finance as one of the linchpins holding together the entire climate negotiation process, and for good reasons. First, climate finance is key to closing gaps: delivering funds to implement mitigation and adaptation activities is required in order to ensure the highest possible efforts. For mitigation, this means keeping the planet on a pathway that limits global warming to 2°C or less; for adaptation, this means enabling climate-resilient development. Second, the provision of climate finance fulfils developed countries’ financial commitments to developing countries under UNFCCC obligations. Third, some stakeholders maintain that developed countries, which provide the means to implement climate change projects (finance, technology and capacity building) will determine developing countries’ level of commitment and buy-in to a new climate deal in 2015.

There is only one year left before the COP in Paris, where the Parties are expected to adopt a protocol – another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the UNFCCC – that is applicable to all Parties. There are few political openings left to reassure developing countries that their domestic climate actions will receive commensurate international support. In this context, the COP in Lima is a critical opportunity to provide the necessary predictability, which is currently missing in the negotiations.

Now that we are 3 days away from the end of negotiations at COP 20 in Lima, lets reflect on the past few days…

An [In]equitable Climate Treaty in Paris 2015?

World leaders have been touting COP 20 as the conference to pave the road to a legally binding treaty in Paris in 2015. By Day 9, however, divisions between the Global North and Global South are making themselves known, particularly around the ADP (Ad hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform) also known as the fundamental base for negotiations to get to Paris. With many of us pushing for equity to be at the heart of next year’s climate deal, it is disheartening to see the degree of division among member states. Particularly upsetting is that it is the so-called “developed” countries that seem to be actively working against equity thus far.

We are already seeing problematic comments from the EU, U.S., Australia and Switzerland — supported by Canada and New Zealand — on climate financing. Likewise there has been strong pushback on linking climate finance through the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund to international law. This is deeply troubling as it essentially opens the door for countries to set their own terms for funding adaptation and mitigation efforts in the Global South.

As recently as last week, the Australian representative said that Australia will use its own means to fund climate “aid” to so-called “developing” nations and will stand firm on its refusal to provide funding through the Green Climate Fund. This translates to less money for the most vulnerable peoples in the most vulnerable countries to protect themselves against the effects of climate change.

Alternatively, the African Group, G77+China, and a number of countries from the Global South have spoken out strongly on the need for robust financial commitments from member states. The South African representative was particularly impressive in the finance meetings, stating the need for meaningful and inclusive conversation around climate funding. They went on to say, quite poignantly, “If people don’t want to have a conversation lets just pack our bags and go home.”

As ministers arrive and kick off the home stretch of negotiations in the second week, there are real worries that the pace of action will leave us without the level of progress promised or hoped for in Lima. The ambition to deliver a draft of a Paris agreement is slipping away, which could leave significantly more work to be done to tackle tough issues throughout 2015.

Finance, both in the post 2020 deal and the period between now and 2020, is emerging as a major sticking point. Negotiators have not moved conversations very far and Ministers have a difficult task to find consensus. Developing countries will not agree to a deal here in Lima that does not move us closer to knowing how developed countries will meet their $100 billion promise by 2020.

Developed countries also continue to push aggressively to delete any references in the text that would commit them to give financial support to poor countries after 2020. But for developing countries this is a bright red line. These two issues must be resolved by ministers this week. If these two issues are not resolved this week it could poison the well for a Paris deal in 2015.

A draft text was circulated towards the end of the first week on efforts to ramp up funding from developed countries to meet their pledge to mobilize $100 billion by 2020 for climate action in poor countries. This draft currently includes strong proposals from African and Latin American countries, calling on developed countries to demonstrate their current progress to meeting this goal and provide a detailed roadmap on how finance will be ramped up over the next few years.

Progress on various aspects of climate finance is essential in Lima in order to pave the way for the 2015 climate deal. These include new financial commitments until 2015, clarity on the pathway to the US$100 billion commitment by 2020, progress on accounting and reporting, and the finance architecture needed for the same. The in-session high-level ministerial dialogue will hopefully break the deadlock on some of the issues that are affecting progress on other key climate negotiations, around mitigation targets in particular. If we fail to achieve a finance mandate at Lima, we see a real problem in reaching tangible goals at Paris which will inturn lead to a global crisis by not addressing the problem of climate change and the risk it poses to our future.

Ram Kishan is the Country Director, Afghanistan of Christian Aid & mentor of Indian Youth Climate Network for Agents of Change Programme. 

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Author: Kabir

a shallow being trying to drown in the intense ocean

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