COP23 ups pressure on climate finance

Members of the Pan-African Parliament and the African alliance for climate justice discuss climate finance. [Aline Robert/EURACTIV]

A week after the start of the COP23 climate summit in Bonn, the thorniest issue has come to the fore during the day dedicated to climate finance. EURACTIV France reports.

Organised by the Fiji islands and hosted by Germany, COP23 is expected to highlight adaptation solutions for countries that are the most vulnerable to storms and sea level rise.

Southern countries have denounced a genuine gap between the promises of financing and their realisation. This is a recurring refrain at COP meetings. But the urgency is being felt more acutely in 2017 since the year is the hottest year on record currently.

For now, the OECD has identified around €43 billion of funding of the €100 billion that  Northern countries had promised annually to southern nations by 2020.

But everything depends on what is counted for. For Armelle Lecomte of Oxfam, “we are still very far from the total”.

According to the development aid NGO, less than $15 billion has been collected for the time being, even if some actors put their money where their mouth is. This is the case of the Green Climate Fund, which announced Monday it had committed $2.2 billion in expenditures, and had more than $41 billion worth of projects in sight.

Emission cuts: We're two-thirds below what's needed, UN says

The UN published its annual emission gap report on Tuesday (31 October), highlighting a dismal record:  ahead of COP23, countries fall two-thirds short of what is needed to reach the agreed reduction in emissions.

The financial challenge is well known. Valdis Dombrovskis, vice-president of the European Commission, said: “It takes hundreds of billions of euros of investment to finance the energy transition and achieve a warming well below 2 degrees. It is a challenge and an opportunity for the EU to attract green investment (…), which is why we are preparing for the beginning of 2018 an action plan for green and sustainable finance.”

Brune Poirson, the French Secretary of State for the energy transition, pleaded in favour of tools for “measuring climate risk to convince the financial actors to take it into account”.

These were uncomfortable answers for people who see the sea level rising from one season to another: by the time that the texts proposed by the EU executive come into action, within two years, several Pacific islands will have already been submerged.

The African continent is particularly worried by this situation, and for good reason: droughts exacerbated by global warming are increasing.

“We are not negotiating for power, nor for our economy, we are negotiating for our survival,” said Hindu Oumarou Ibrahim, representing the Autonomous Women’s Association of Chad (AFPAT).

The president of the pan-African parliament, Roger Nkodo Dang, was also very direct.

“We are told not to eat meat and not to cut trees in the forest. But that can not be done without compensation! Now we come here, and we are told that we still need to negotiate the conditions for implementing the Paris Agreement. But the real question is who will pay for the United States? ”

Another hot topic is that developing countries are demanding more flexibility in the current arrangements. “It takes at least two years and a lot of paperwork to build a case and get access to the Green Climate Fund,” said Mithika Mwenda, Secretary General of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance.

Unbelievable promises?

To address their concern, the countries of the South have made a point of confronting Northern countries with their own commitments.

They stress for instance that the EU never signed the Doha Amendment, which represents the second part of the Kyoto Protocol and is much much more ambitious than the EU’s own 2020 goals.

The Doha Amendment is currently signed by four EU countries only, and Poland has  placed its veto on an EU signature, although this would be technically possible since the text was published in the EU’s official journal.

In any case, the EU’s signature would be anecdotal because there are not enough signatories for the protocol to enter into force (a total of 144 signatures are needed).

Developing countries fear that history will repeat itself and it will go down as more empty promises by the world’s historical polluters.

Polish president says won't ratify Kyoto carbon-cutting pact

Poland’s new conservative president on Tuesday (27 October) refused to endorse an amendment to the United Nation’s Kyoto Protocol that would require the coal-dependent EU country to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


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