With the run-up to the COP26 in Glasgow this November, wealthy countries are called upon to increase their climate finance pledges for developing countries. And from these pledges, at least 50% should be spent on climate adaptation.
According to Oxfam, developed countries continue to fall short of their $100 billion climate finance pledge each year from 2020 to 2025 to help vulnerable countries adapt to climate change’s dangerous effects and reduce their emissions. Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that developed countries only provided $80 billion in climate finance in 2019.
If this trend continues, by 2025, developing countries most vulnerable to climate change effects will miss out on up to $75 billion in total climate finance over the six-year target period.
The problem is that climate finance is falling short and how wealthy countries allocate funding and how climate finance is being provided.
According to Oxfam, in 2020, countries like EU, UK, US, Canada, Australia, and Japan have spent more than $15 trillion on Covid-19 recovery packages, equivalent to more than 151 times of the climate finance needed, and in 2019 military spending also increased to just under $2 trillion, or 20 times more than the climate finance goal. This signifies that money is not the problem but a case of the political will, says Nafkote Dabi, Oxfam International’s Global Climate Policy Lead.
While UN Chief and others have called that half of the money should be spent on adaptation, existing pledges by donor countries show that only a quarter will be spent on building resilience and climate adaption in developing countries. In 2019, 70% of public climate finance was also given as loans instead of grants leading to 2025, pushing vulnerable countries into more debt.
Developing cannot transition to clean energy or adapt to climate change impacts without financial support. Many of them are forced to spend huge amounts of money on protecting themselves from the damages caused by extreme events despite having much lesser emissions than developed countries.
Poor families in Bangladesh have spent nearly $2 billion – twice as much as the government, in preventing climate-related damages, while Madagascar is experiencing the worst drought in 40 years and facing food insecurity.
UN Chief Antonio Guterres urges all parties to the Paris Agreement to spend 50% of the total climate finance on climate adaptation to mitigate climate change effects such as sea-level rise (SLR) and relocating people. He says that the earth is on a disastrous course because countries are not doing enough to reduce emissions. “The world is on a catastrophic pathway to 2.7 degrees of heating. We need a 45% cut in emissions by 2030 to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century,” he says (Clifford, 2021).
Singling out coal production, Guterres says that “If all planned coal power plants become operational, we will not only be clearly above 1.5 degrees — we will be well above 2 degrees. The Paris targets would go up in smoke”. Adding that “We need coalitions of solidarity — between countries that still depend heavily on coal, and countries that have the financial and technical resources to support transitions” (Clifford, 2021).
According to Gutteres, the lack of trust between developed and developing countries and a lack of ambitious goals can risk the upcoming COP26 failure. “There is still a level of mistrust, between north and south, developed and developing countries, that needs to be overcome. We are on the verge of the abyss, and when you are on the verge of the abyss, you need to be very careful about what the next step is. And the next step is COP26 in Glasgow”, he says.
The UN COP26 aims to draw out as much climate ambitions and climate funding from all parties involved.
Guterres also expressed that he has yet to see enough commitment from developed countries to developing ones and give them meaningful support with their climate adaptation. “We need the developed countries to do more, namely in relation to the support to developing countries. And we need some emerging economies to go an extra mile and be more ambitious in the reduction of air emissions” he says.
The recent extreme climate events and the harrowing evidence from the latest IPCC report show that climate change is here, and its effects will only worsen. Developing countries tend to be the most vulnerable ones and remain the least resourced.
Poorer nations expected to face up to £55 billion shortfall in climate finance. (2021 September 20). Reliefweb. Retrieved from https://reliefweb.int/report/world/poorer-nations-expected-face-55-billion-shortfall-climate-finance-oxfam
Clifford, C. (2021, September 17). At least half of climate finance must be spent on helping countries adapt to climate change, says UN secretary-general. CNBC. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/17/un-at-least-half-of-climate-finance-should-be-spent-on-adaptation.html
Glasgow climate summit at risk of failure, UN chief warns. (2021, September 16). Aljazeera. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/17/un-at-least-half-of-climate-finance-should-be-spent-on-adaptation.html