European countries should use their influence as shareholders of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to encourage green investments in countries across the world, said Climate Envoy for the Netherlands, Marcel Beukeboom.
Beukeboom was speaking on Tuesday (10 November) at the launch of a Statement on a Resilient Recovery by the High Ambition Coalition, a group of developing and developed countries led by the Marshall Islands which formed in the run-up to the 2015 UNFCCC meeting in Paris.
“Can we sit for the long run in the old polluting economies that we have inherited from the past or can we take this as an opportunity to leap forward and invest in a future that we want, which is the same for all of us, cleaner and more equitable?” Beukeboom asked.
“Often cheap sources of energy need to be replaced by something else and that is something where we can work by investing in alternatives that are sustainable,” he said.
But there are clear benefits behind a global response to COVID and climate change, including jobs and health improvements, according to Agripina Jenkins Rojas, a climate advisor for Costa Rica.
“Yes, there are those of us who are going to need more help. I think COVID-19 has shown that there are populations, there are countries that are affected more strongly, but we’re all feeling the pain and it’s only by coming together that we can get to the future we all need,” she said.
“If we transition to the use of green energy, we have lots of benefits in terms of foreign exchange, in terms of economic development opportunities, in terms of having a generally cleaner environment, so we do not see the target as being undue pressure,” said Leon Charles, one of the Caribbean region’s experienced climate change professionals.
The High Ambition Coalition’s new statement, which is open for countries to sign until December, calls for developing countries’ debt to be cleared to enable them to recover greener from the COVID crisis.
Some countries face particular challenges in receiving finance because of conditionalities like GDP thresholds, which automatically exclude some small and developing countries.
“States like mine have not caused the climate crisis, but we are the first to feel its affects. Vulnerable communities around the world want to invest in a green recovery, but cannot do so without adequate resources and while carrying the heavy burden of debt,” said Minister Christopher Loeak from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, adding he hoped financial organisations were listening.
Loeak, one of the signatories, said the statement should send a signal to the world that members are serious about building back better and urged more countries to sign it.
“This crisis has made it clear that human health and the health of the planet are inseparably bound. Our recovery can and must set us on course for a more safe and secure future,” he said.
“We all need to be running as fast as we possibly can. Every single person as an individual, every single community, every single nation should be going as fast as we possibly can to get to a planet that is safe for all of us, communities that are healthy because we all have children who will be living on this planet after we are gone and I, for one, want to make sure my child is in a safe and healthy environment,” said Tina Stege, Climate Envoy of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
The statement also pledges that 60% of recovery spending will be spent on climate friendly projects and the phase out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies and calls countries to aim for the 1.5 Paris Agreement warming target, calling it necessary and possible.
It calls for bilateral and international development finance institutions to ensure countries have the necessary liquidity to tackle both COVID and a green recovery, looking at schemes like swapping debts for nature.
On Wednesday (12 November), the world’s public development banks, which together invest 10% of all global investment from private and public sources, committed to aligning their work with the Paris Agreement, but there was no firm commitment on phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.
The European Commission also announced during the summit that it would boost investment in Africa and the European Neighbourhood, concluding ten financial guarantee agreements expected to generate up to generate €10 billion in overall investment.
(Edited by Frédéric Simon)