Vulnerable countries sound alarm on climate finance

Desertification in Ethiopia is putting increasing strain on the country's food supplies. [TREEAID/Flickr]

The countries most exposed to the effects of climate change are still waiting for the finances they were promised in Paris in 2015. EURACTIV France reports.

Eighteen months after the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement, the most vulnerable countries are worried by the lack of progress that has been made so far. They hope their example will spur the most developed countries into action.

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Small Pacific islands threatened by rising sea levels (such as Fiji, the Marshal Islands and the Maldives), African countries worried by desertification (including Ethiopia and Rwanda) and developing countries hit by extreme climate events (Nepal, the Philippines), grouped together as the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), sounded the alarm at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, which closed last Thursday (18 May).

Negotiators from all over the world attended the ten days of talks in Germany, in an attempt to make progress on the application of the Paris Agreement. While the international community committed in 2015 to limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, its efforts have not yet managed to drag the planet off its more drastic trajectory.

Ambition

“Keeping to the 1.5 degrees goal is quite simply a matter of survival. For all of us, the Paris Agreement is our lifeline,” said Debasu Bayleyegn Eyasu, a director-general with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Ethiopia is currently leading the CVF. “The world is moving ahead,” he added.

Together, the 48 members of the Forum represent more than a billion people, all of whom are particularly exposed to the effects of climate change. In its final declaration, the CVF warned that the implementation of the historic UN agreement could not be taken for granted and depended on an increase in support from the world’s richer nations.

“2018 needs to trigger enhanced ambition for climate action if the Paris Agreement’s goals are to remain achievable,” the Forum’s joint statement said.

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This negotiation session in Bonn was in large part dedicated to the question of ambition, and more precisely, how the signatories to the Paris Agreement can be encouraged to increase it.

“There is a gap between the current trajectory of warming and the objective defined under the Paris Agreement,” said Lucile Dufour from Climate Action Network (CAN).

To get the deal back on track, countries will have to present new national contributions aimed at closing this gap between theory and reality. The exercise will begin next year and end in 2020.

100% renewables

Among the most vulnerable countries, the issue of climate change is already being taken seriously. “We are working now together with our ministers of finance to find innovative ways to accelerate our progress towards the 100% renewable energy vision, as well as to reduce risks and boost poverty reduction efforts,” the declaration stated.

“Costa Rica produces 100% renewable energy most of the year. But we won’t stop there: we are tackling now the transport sector and hope to even export renewable power more widely in the region,” said William Calvo, Costa Rica’s adjunct chief negotiator to the UNFCCC.

At the COP22 in Marrakesh, the CVF countries committed to a 100% renewable energy future. “These countries have shown and are showing that they are ready to be the leaders on climate questions,” said Dufour.

This year’s COP23, which will take place in Bonn from 6 to 17 November, will be presided over by Fiji; a first for a small island state.

A question of financing

To achieve their objectives, the Forum also called on the world’s rich countries to keep their financial promises. The CVF demanded the “quick” allocation of the capital from the Green Climate Fund and used the opportunity to remind the developed countries of the pledges they had made to support the Global South.

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COP22 ended last Friday (18 November), leaving the question of climate finance unanswered. For developing countries, this is a disappointing failure. EURACTIV France reports.

To help developing countries invest in the fight against climate change, the world’s rich countries promised in 2015 to provide an adaptation fund worth $100 billion per year by 2020.

The European Union announced on 18 May a package worth €800 million, as part of its cooperation with the 79-country African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). Half of the sum will be dedicated to action to tackle climate change by 2020, EU Climate Commission Miguel Arias Cañete said.

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