Even as the event statement for COP27 states that it will be held with a view to building on previous successes and paving the way for future ambition to effectively tackle the global challenge of climate change, the phrase “previous successes” itself sounds scary as the world hasn't ever found success in its promises in this regard so far. So isn’t it time that we acknowledge the same?
There is more than just a sense of darker clouds on the global climate conversations. As much as its need to act on, climate actions are worryingly tested by the elasticity of geo political vacillations and the cholesterol of domestic national politics and economic pretexts. The far more sensitive topic of climate finance, is a classic stiff upper lip. Every political bloc has its own excuse for not keeping its promise. Constraints are used as negotiating points, and excuses used as baits for newer promises. Will we find the climate finance common ground? Is there not enough money in the world to fund the transition? Won’t the nations behave better if it were hurting only them, and not collectively the entire universe?
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Weather vs Climate
The current COP27 is like the weather. Short term in nature, as the word weather denotes. We need to move to a trust-based long term Climate.
The event statement for COP27 states that it will be held "with a view to building on previous successes and paving the way for future ambition to effectively tackle the global challenge of climate change." The scary phrase in this is “previous successes”. Isn’t it time that we acknowledge that the world failed in its promises and half-hearted endeavours?
A research report, released ahead of talks on climate change finance at the COP27 summit in Egypt, commissioned by the current and previous climate summit hosts, Egypt and Britain, explains that funding is required to cut emissions, boost resilience, deal with damage from climate change and restore nature and land. It further articulates that Developing countries need to work with investors, rich countries and development banks to secure $1 trillion every year, in external financing for climate action by the end of the decade and to match that with their own funds. Isn’t this report yet another reiteration for the previous COP meets?
It was as early as in 2009 at the COP15 in Copenhagen, that the developed countries had committed to jointly mobilise $100 billion per year by 2020 - to help developing nations face the climate change challenges. That promise was broken. The World Bank Group mentions that $83 billion has been delivered over the past five years - reaching the highest level in a single year in 2020 at $21.4 billion - and the remaining goal by 2023. Going by the past, Tall order, ain’t it?
India and its concerns
India has been vociferous on its views to bring to the global table, its views and concerns voiced for and on behalf of the Global South. For being one of the populous nation, it has a huge climate challenge ahead. The last report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change released few months ago has estimated that India faces multiple climate change-induced disasters in the next two decades.
India’s view was then presented by Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav, saying; “Environmental negotiations are not about give and take — they are about saving the world. Developed nations must take historic responsibility and consider what they have done in the past.”
“Going ahead, if ambitious climate targets have to be achieved, these need to be backed by intentions reflected by ambitious, appropriate, and reasonable access to financial resources by developing countries,” Minister Yadav said recently at the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) ministerial dialogue on a new collective quantified goal (NCQG) on climate finance.
He also said the Standing Committee on Finance under United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has estimated that resources in the range of $6 trillion to $11 trillion are required till 2030 to meet the targets that the developing countries have set in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The minister further elaborated that the climate actions are needed to meet the NDC target require financial, technological, and capacity-building support from developed countries.
“The ambitious goal set down by the developing countries requires substantive enhancement in climate finance from the floor of $100 billion per year,” he added.
On the topic of climate finance, India has the view that mobilisation of the resources needs to be led by the developed countries and should be long-term, concessional, and climate-specific with equitable allocation between adaptation and mitigation projects.
“The commitment of $100 billion made in 2009 by developed countries was not only minuscule given the scale of needs, but has also not been achieved yet,” the country stated.
India has also taken the balanced economic view that climate finance at market (interest) rates will only add to financial stress on the developing nations. Questions that look ahead are where is the Good Samaritan? Who are the Good Samaritan nations or institutions that will fund climate change initiatives, at structured-for-good-economic-viability?
Lesson : Old Indian power failure
As a social behaviour, probably unique to us Indians, many of us are familiar with our individual and collective reaction to a power cut at home. We simply peep out to check with the neighbours if they also have power cut, and take solace that electricity supply would be restored soon. We rarely take the first effort to either call the power supply company to check when the power would be restored, or would we light a lamp or candle to give us light at home. Since the power cut is across our housing colony, we take comfort that power would be restored soon. Familiar ?
Isn’t that how the nations seem to be behaving now ? That someone would fund the climate transition, and that someone might be already doing it. It will all turn out to be good, and well soon.
Actions speak louder than reactions
On the other hand, India has demonstrated that its leading by its actions on the ground with its national energy shift towards renewables. India will require $223 billion investment in order to meet its goal of wind and solar capacity installations by 2030 in its updated NDC, India has committed to 50 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030. This will necessitate the need to attract private finance.
Mere posturing by the wealthier nations in the past decade of climate conversations is worrisome. One, it leads to delusional acceptance by those other nations who can’t afford adequate economic inputs for their climate transition. Two, the misplaced narrative that developed nations are leading the climate change. Three, the global communities have become mere climate event managers - having regular conversations like a busy talk show on climate, frequently dispense research reports to show that someone is preparing them. Four, the worry is if the developed nations are using these to create a lucrative climate finance industry for their private sector.
“Financial resources and sound investments are needed to address climate change, to both reduce emissions, promote adaptation to the impacts that are already occurring, and to build resilience. The benefits that flow from these investments, however, dramatically outweigh any upfront costs… Transitioning to a green economy, it found, can unlock new economic opportunities and jobs. An investment of US$1, on average, yields US$4 in benefits,” UN notes. Is any nation taking these (their own) words seriously ?
Wordsmithing and semantic management seems to be at sharp play in the climate finance theme. A failure in agreeing to any climate action or any climate finance commitment, and worse off the failure in keeping to those is a doom for the world. No more promises, broken promises, and damned lies please.
First Published: IST