Climate funding: Should emerging economies pay? Row emerges

Updated on Nov 11, 2022 11:10 AM IST

A new controversy is brewing at the UN Climate Conference (COP27) following Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda’s comment on Tuesday that highly polluting emerging economies such as China and India should also contribute to a Loss and Damage compensation fund

People pass in front of a wall lit with the sign of COP27 as the COP27 climate summit takes place, at the Green Zone in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt November 10, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany (REUTERS) PREMIUM
People pass in front of a wall lit with the sign of COP27 as the COP27 climate summit takes place, at the Green Zone in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt November 10, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany (REUTERS)
ByJayashree Nandi

Who will pay for loss and damage caused by the climate crisis ? And who will pay for what countries should do to adapt to climate change? A new controversy is brewing at the UN Climate Conference (COP27) following Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda’s comment on Tuesday that highly polluting emerging economies such as China and India should also contribute to a Loss and Damage compensation fund.

The thinking thus far has been only on having historical polluters (read: the developed world) pay for this.

There is also a subtle push from developed countries to include China and India in the donor base for a new, collective quantified goal (NCQG) for the post 2025 period which will begin from the floor of $100 billion per year that developed countries were supposed to pay from 2020 onwards, and there is also a push to increase the donor base for the Adaptation Fund, observers said.

Browne was speaking on behalf of the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS)on Tuesday when he said: “We all know that the People’s Republic of China, India -- they’re major polluters, and the polluter must pay. I don’t think that there’s any free pass for any country and I don’t say this with any acrimony,” Reuters reported on November 9.

Indian officials who are part of the delegation said on Wednesday that the country is already funding and implementing projects for south-south cooperation and resilience building. “We (Indians) are also victims of emissions from developed countries and we are also paying for our adaptation and loss and damage and helping others,” one of the officials added on condition of anonymity. Other Indian officials pointed to India’s role in creating coalitions such as the Coalition of Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), and campaigns such as Infrastructure for the Resilient Island States (IRIS) . India also supports the United Nations Secretary General’s initiative on early warnings for all launched at COP27, they added. The official said that India‘s per capita emissions are a third of the global average.

The first official highlighted India’s own vulnerability on this front given the country’s “7500 km long coastline and over 1000 islands”.

“We also submit that historical cumulative emissions should be the guiding principles and benchmark of further discussions and not current emission levels,” he added.

During informal consultations of matters related to the adaptation fund convened on November 9, parties discussed a draft text proposed by the co-facilitators. According to observers of the Third World Network, an advocacy organisation working on north-south affairs, on the issue of doubling the collective provision of climate finance for adaptation , the US has requested deletion of “in the context of doubling the collective provision of climate finance from developed to developing countries.” It also proposed deleting a reference to “invites developed country Parties” since “all the countries” should be invited “to contribute to the AF,” TWN’s bulletin on Thursday said.

The Glasgow Climate Pact urged developed countries to at least double their collective provision of climate finance for adaptation to developing country Parties from 2019 levels. The Africa Group, and Saudi Arabia for the Arab group and China, said they did not support the notion of diversifying the fund’s contributor base according to TWN’s bulletin.

TWN also pointed that report of the Adaptation Fund Board revealed there are outstanding pledges worth $174.6 million. The Report of the Adaptation Fund Board for 2020 and 2021’ had welcomed pledges from a variety of contributors, including the United States, amounting to $ 356 million to the Adaptation Fund but several pledges remained unfulfilled. The Glasgow Climate Pact last year had urged developed countries to at least double their collective provision of climate finance for adaptation to developing country Parties from 2019 levels by 2025, in the context of achieving a balance between mitigation and adaptation.

Indian officials confirmed that developed countries want to expand the donor base for the new climate finance and that India has always resisted this. “The Paris Agreement has a provision of including those in the donor base who are willing and able to do so,” the first official said.

Independent experts said AOSIS’ comments urging that India and China to also pay up for Loss and Damage, goes against the principle of south-south solidarity because it is G77 (a group of developing nations, now numbering 134) and China which had first proposed that Loss and Damage funding be included in the formal agenda of COP27.

“The onus of providing loss and damage finance lies with the rich industrialised countries whose historical emissions are responsible for the climate crisis the world is facing right now. Their lack of action for decades is causing supercharged storms, devastating floods and unprecedented heatwaves. It is immoral for rich countries, such as the US, who have not paid their fair share of climate finance, to shift the burden onto developing countries,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International.

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