France helps Fiji with COP 21 contribution

Fiji will receive financial aid to prepare its COP 21 package. [Sinead Friel/Flickr]

The world’s poorest countries will have access to financial aid from several donors, including France, to help them implement projects to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. The EU is encouraging other member states to participate, ahead of the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015. EURACTIV France reports

The hard work of preparing developing countries for the COP 21 is underway. Countries in the global South, just like major economic powers such as the European Union, the United States and Japan, have until October to submit plans for their contributions to the conference.

In this document, each of the 195 countries participating in the climate negotiations must present its objectives for reducing CO2 emissions and its plans to adapt to climate change.

National contributions

These documents will serve as the basis for the Paris climate negotiations in December.

The countries participating in the climate negotiations had previously been divided into two categories: developing countries and developed countries, and the latter were largely held responsible for climate change.

Since the Lima conference last December, the line between the two categories has been blurred. The new concept of “Common but Differentiated Responsibilities” gives developing countries a new level of responsibility. They now have to come up with serious climate commitments, “even if we don’t necessarily expect quantified targets for the reduction of greenhouse gasses,” said Caroline Edant, a climate expert at the French Development Agency (AFD).

Growing responsibility

The least advanced countries are not always in a position to rise to their new responsibilities. Annick Girardin, the French Secretary of State for Development and Francophonie, said, “We saw that the least advanced countries, as well as the small island states, did not have the means to prepare their national contributions on their own”.

With the first national contributions expected at the end of March, and the final deadline set for October, the clock is ticking.

>> Read: EU to exert maximum pressure in seeking emissions cuts

The challenges faced by poorer countries include unreliable or non-existent data on CO2 emissions, lack of expertise on climate change, and a lack of resources to implement any changes. Funding and expertise has been promised by several international donors, in order to address these problems.

Small island states and African countries prioritised

The AFD has released €3.5 million to help around 20 poorer countries to prepare their COP contributions. This will be used to provide human and technical expertise to the countries that need it, via Expertise France, the French international agency for technical expertise.

A source at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “The idea is to respond to the countries that ask for our help, particularly the small island states and African countries.” The first participants include Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Fiji.

>> Special Report: Climate Change: the Road to Paris

So far, around 20 developing countries have applied to the French fund. “But if our needs overlap, our cooperation could possibly go beyond the €3.5 million package,” Girardin explained.

>> Read: Climate negotiations reveal new alliances in the Global South

For Caroline Edant, the objectives are threefold. “We have to assess the situation and the needs of the countries, then formalise an action plan, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change, and finally, put together the national contributions,” said Edant.

“From mid-April, the first experts will be deployed on the ground for missions of four to six months,” said Nicolas Drunet from Expertise France.

>> Read: COP 21 negotiations kick off in Geneva

France is not the only country to offer funding to the global South in order to get the climate negotiations moving. “Germany is also very active on the subject,” Drunet stated.

The European Union is also developing a support mechanism for less advanced countries.

An EU spokesperson said, “The European Commission plans to encourage member states to offer extra aid to developing countries to help them with their national contributions”.

“However, no decision has been taken, so we cannot reveal any details,” he added. 

Negotiations on climate change began in 1992, and the UN organises an annual international climate change conference called the Conference of the Parties, or COP.

The 20th COP took place in Lima, Peru, from 1 to 12 December 2014, and Paris is hosting the all-important 21st conference in December 2015. The participating states must reach an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the object of which was to reduce CO2 emissions between 2008 and 2012. Agreeing on a framework, whether legally binding or not, is the priority between now and December. 

October 2015: target date for national contributions for COP 21

December 2015: COP 21 in Paris

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