Climate finance tops India’s COP27 agenda

Published on Nov 05, 2022 11:54 PM IST

India will push for clarifications on climate finance, one of the contentious issues between developed and developing countries, as leaders and officials from 200 nations gather on Sunday for the UN Climate Conference (COP27) in Egypt, coming together after a year in which war and economic turmoil is feared to have weakened the climate agenda, even though the crisis continued to trigger devastation worldwide

HT Image
HT Image
ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi

India will push for clarifications on climate finance, one of the contentious issues between developed and developing countries, as leaders and officials from 200 nations gather on Sunday for the UN Climate Conference (COP27) in Egypt, coming together after a year in which war and economic turmoil is feared to have weakened the climate agenda, even though the crisis continued to trigger devastation worldwide.

On the agenda for the November 6-18 summit in the resort town of Sharm El Sheikh will be discussions on implementation of various pledges on climate change mitigation and finance, most of which have not been put into action. It is also expected to discuss critical and highly debated issues like loss and damage and adaptation as part of the formal agenda.

Officials in India have said they resist attempts to classify loans as climate finance. In 2009 at COP15, developed countries pledged to $100bn dollars in climate financing for developing nations starting 2020.

Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav in an interview to HT on Saturday said India expects a multilaterally agreed definition of finance at COP27 as India doesn’t recognise loans to be climate finance as they push poor and developing countries further into debt.

First up on Sunday will be the formal adoption of agenda for the next two weeks. During a press briefing on Friday, ambassador Wael Aboulmagd, special advisor to the COP27 president-designate Sameh Shoukry, said the main issues are likely to be the mitigation work programme; the global goal on adaptation; loss and damage and climate finance.

Mitigation refers to measures that will reduce carbon emission, adaptation deals with measures to minimise the impact felt from the climate crisis and loss and damage mostly concerns how to support developing countries, which are historically lowest of the emitters and are particularly vulnerable to the harms of a warming climate.

New requests have come from some parties to include issues like keeping the 1.5°C goal alive; special circumstances of Africa and transparency in financial flows to be included in the agenda.

Over 45,000 registered COP27 participants and over 120 heads of states and governments are expected to attend the summit, including US President Joe Biden, UK PM Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not travel to Egypt but the Indian delegation will be led by Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav, who will also address the heads of states at the Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Implementation Summit (November 7 and 8) on how India is implementing what it has pledged under Paris Agreement. The final list of heads of states to speak at the summit is yet to be released.

On November 1, Shoukry wrote a letter to all parties and observers under United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), asking them to come prepared to assess implementation of pledges. This is in view of the “cascading risks and overlapping crises” due to geopolitical situations like Ukraine crisis, spiralling food and energy prices, and a growing public finance and public debt crisis in many countries, and latest climate science indicating that some climate impacts are now irreversible.

“Last year’s outcomes from G7 and G20 provided valuable inputs and momentum to COP26 and helped facilitate the Glasgow outcomes, this year the picture is less encouraging. While G7 was ambitious in its outcomes, G20 environment meeting proved to be challenging and could not agree on outcomes on environment,” Shoukry wrote.

“Likewise, the high expectations from the fall meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group to respond to the urgent calls to provide appropriate support for addressing the climate crisis didn’t materialise into concrete agreements to allow more flows and facilitated access by developing countries.

“This challenge comes coupled with a wider concern on backsliding on delivery of finance pledges and the commitment to the operating entities of the financial mechanism of the convention and the Paris Agreement, all of which is not responding to the needs of developing countries as identified, including by the Standing Committee on finance needs report, that puts the volume to fulfil developing countries NDCs at around 5.6 trillion USD up to 2030,” Shoukry’s letter added.

During a press briefing ahead of the release of UN’s NDC Synthesis report on October 26, Simon Stiell, executive secretary of UN Climate Change, noted that some developed country parties had backtracked on their climate commitments last year

The trust deficit due to the failure of developed nations to deliver on the long promised USD100 billion dollar climate finance to developing countries is growing. A report, titled Climate finance delivery plan progress report: advancing the ten collective actions, released on October 28 by Steven Guilbeault, minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada, and Jennifer Morgan, state of secretary and special envoy for Climate Action, Germany on said developed countries have still not been able to mobilise the money.

“In 2009, the industrialised countries therefore pledged to collectively provide 100 billion US dollars each year from 2020 onwards. Unfortunately, there is still a gulf between ambition and reality: in 2020, collective climate finance amounted to 83.3 billion US dollars,” a statement by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany said.

Loss and damage, is likely to make it to the formal agenda, said Aboulmagd, as developing nations and host Egypt have pushed for it. But the formal agenda is adopted only based on all parties consenting to it.

On loss and damage, the view on having a separate financing facility was opposed by the US, Australia and the European Union, which instead pushed the importance of insurance, catastrophe bonds and bilateral assistance.

There are polarised views on this issue and developed nations are opposed to the idea of liability and reparations.

This year however, the issue gained momentum because COP27 is being held in Africa, which is dealing with severe climate impacts. Earlier in 2022, Pakistan recorded a rare flood that displaced lakhs of citizens and India, along with parts if South Asia, recorded a rare spring heat wave that led to at least 90 deaths across India and Pakistan, triggered an extreme Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) in northern Pakistan and forest fires in India, particularly in the hill states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh; extreme heat also reduced India’s wheat crop yields, causing the government to stop wheat exports; shortage of coal led to power outages.

“Climate crisis is taking lives, livelihoods, destroying critical ecosystems, threatening millions of people with food and water shortage… the deadly, devastating floods in Pakistan, Nigeria, prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa…there have been over 15 extreme climate events in US this year exceeding loss of USD 1 billion each. The recent UN reports are showing we may not meet 1.5 degree C goal. Losses and damage are increasing so are adaptation needs,” said Rachel Cleetus, policy director, Climate and Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a briefing on Saturday.

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