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UN climate chief calls for $2.4 trillion in climate finance

ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi
Feb 03, 2024 05:02 AM IST

Barely a month-and-half after the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, Simon Stiell, executive secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change called on countries to deliver trillions in climate finance.

Barely a month-and-half after the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, Simon Stiell, executive secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change called on countries to deliver trillions in climate finance.

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HT Image

Stiell, who delivered a lecture at ADA University in Azerbaijan’s Baku on Friday, said at least $2.4 trillion is needed every year for energy transition of developing countries (excluding China). COP29 is scheduled to be held in Baku and is expected to be a critical conference for the global South because finance is one of key issues on agenda. The new collective quantified goal on climate finance, or NCQG, is set to be agreed this year. This goal will supersede the $100 billion target agreed in 2009 and should be informed by the needs and priorities of developing countries.

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“What must we do this year to ensure the world’s shared goals remain within reach? We must spend the year working collectively to evolve our global financial system so it’s fit for purpose, with a clear plan to meaningfully execute the climate transition. Looking at the numbers, it’s clear that to achieve this transition, we need money, and lots of it. $2.4 Trillion, if not more,” Stiell said.

$2.4 trillion is what the High-Level Expert Group on Climate Finance estimates is needed every year to invest in renewable energy, adaptation, and other climate-related issues in developing countries, excluding China.

“Whether on slashing emissions or building climate-resilience, it’s already blazingly obvious that finance is the make-or-break factor in the world’s climate fight – in quantity, quality, and innovation...In fact, without far more finance, 2023’s climate wins will quickly fizzle away into more empty promises. We need torrents – not trickles – of climate finance,” Stiell added.

Countries must be confident that they will be able to rapidly access sufficient concessional support, he said.

Stiell also warned countries against capitalising on the loopholes in the COP28 agreement. “Whilst last year’s agreement on the Global Stocktake at COP28 was far from perfect, it would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, and sends a very strong signal about the inevitability of global decarbonization,” he said.

“But now is no time for victory laps. It’s time to get on with the job. Likewise, hiding behind loopholes in decision texts, or dodging the hard-work ahead through selective interpretation, would be entirely self-defeating for any government, as climate impacts hammer every country’s economy and population.”

HT reported on December 13 that history was made in Dubai when 196 countries agreed to transition away from fossil fuels, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, although experts said it doesn’t do enough on almost all fronts -- climate targets, funding, phasing out fossil fuels, and holding historical polluters accountable.

Still, fossil fuels have been a topic of taboo for years in climate negotiations, and while the text doesn’t mention the words “oil” and “gas”, the very fact that there was a consensus was seen as a victory in some quarters.

According to the agreement, one of the means is “accelerating zero- and low-emission technologies, including, inter alia, renewables, nuclear, abatement and removal technologies such as carbon capture and utilisation and storage, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors, and low-carbon hydrogen production”.

Experts have been wary of this provision because it could allow nations to continue expanding the use of planet- warming fossil fuels while depending on carbon capture technologies in a big way.

Stiell also said by 2025 he hopes the G20 – together responsible for 80% of the world’s emissions i – have seriously re-engineered their targets in line with 1.5 degrees C goal. “Because they know that PR spin, re-branding or tinkering around the edges won’t cut it to meet their climate responsibilities, and that it would also leave them badly behind the innovation curve, not at the cutting edge.”

“India has been continuously highlighting two major concerns of the global south – technology and climate finance. At G20, held under India’s Presidency, it was agreed that the climate finance requirement will be to the tune of trillions of dollars by 2030. And that this should be available, accessible and affordable,” Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav said in an interview to HT on December 15.

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