The bottom of the economic pyramid is keen for progress on climate finance, loss and damage, global adaptation goal
An informal gathering of ministers from countries party to the Paris Agreement was convened in Denmark earlier this month, ahead of the formal United Nations climate conferences in June and November. The meeting was co-chaired by Alok Sharma, president of the 26th Conference of Parties (CoP 26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Sameh Shoukry, COP 27 president, to discuss implementation of commitments made at CoP 26 in Glasgow.
But were priorities of developing countries given due attention at the ministerial meeting? Down to Earth spoke to Madeleine Diouf Sarr, who chairs the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group on climate change to understand this.
According Sarr, who also heads the climate change division at Senegal’s environment ministry, the ministers present in Denmark displayed strong motivation to proceed towards raising ambition on all fronts to limit global warming at 1.5 degree Celsius over pre-Industrialisationb levels:
“But this requires governments to take decisive action at the national level — and so far this year progress has been limited,” she told DTE.
The LDC Group is a coalition of 46 low-income countries, and a key negotiating bloc, representing the Global South in UN climate change negotiations. They are at the most economic disadvantage and simultaneously face some of the worst impacts of climate change despite contributing little to the crisis. The members include India’s neighbours like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Nepal.
LDCs had a few key asks at the ministerial, Sarr explained:
First and foremost, governments, particularly major emitters and G20 nations, need to increase their 2030 targets and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) this year, as they agreed to in the Glasgow Climate Pact.
Countries need to come forward by CoP27 with revised plans to keep the 1.5°C goal in sight, added Sarr, who took over the LDC group chair from Bhutanese Environment Secretary Sonam Phuntsho Wangdi in January.
Climate commitments of no country is consistent with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C — as the Paris Agreement stipulates — claimed a report assessing the climate goals of the G20 countries published last week.
“There is agreement that 2030 targets need to increase to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. But the momentum in the room is not yet reflected in countries’ actions or through NDC revision, as agreed in the Glasgow Climate Pact,” Manjeet Dhakal, head of the LDC Support Team at Climate Analytics, told Down to Earth.
“Developed countries also need to fulfill the commitment made on delivering climate finance, particularly the $100 billion target,” said Sarr and added that:
But as we move further into the 2020s, we need to recognise that climate finance flows will need to increase to keep pace with the impacts from climate change.
The Group of Seven (G7) highly industrialised countries, the world’s richest, declared in December 2021 that they would increase funding to developing countries from “billions to trillions”. German news portal Der Spiegel, however, reported that this has since been watered down and is missing from recent communications from the group, indicating a cooling of enthusiasm.
G7 climate and energy ministers were in Berlin last week to discuss climate goals ahead of a formal June summit. Spiegel revealed that the trillion-Euro promise could be changed to a more general statement on climate-friendly financial flows.
Developed countries have also for years dragged their feet on ‘loss and damage’, another vital issue for LDCs — the fear has been that of opening a Pandora’s box of liability and claims for compensation.
“The willingness to engage in the loss and damage discussions is definitely there”, Sarr said on her experience at the May ministerial. “There was broad understanding that the ‘Santiago Network on Loss and Damage’, which would provide countries with technical assistance on loss and damage, should get up and running as soon as possible.
“However, there is much to be done beyond technical assistance, and action to support countries with accessible and dedicated finance for loss and damage is really the pressing issue,” she added.
There was still divergence on tackling loss and damage at the multilateral level, particularly on mobilising finance for it, Dhakal said. Overall, however, the May ministerial helped understand priorities and unpack major political issues early this year before the start to formal negotiations.
A fourth priority for LDCs this year is the Global Goal on Adaptation, which must serve local communities at the frontlines of climate change, without creating additional burdens, said Sarr.
Countries are now preparing to attend the United Nations’ mid-year conference (or SB 56) in Bonn, Germany next month. Led by two UN technical committees known as the Subsidiary Bodies, the conference will take forward action items announced at COP 26 last November, and advance some of the more technical and operational discussions in time for CoP 27, which will be held in Egypt this November.
In Bonn, the LDCs will demand strong action to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C, adequate support and easy access to financial resources, and building resilience and means to address loss and damage, said Sarr.
Several key agenda items need to be discussed and detailed out, so that the corresponding decisions can be “adopted” at COP 27, such as the work programme to urgently scale up mitigation ambition and implementation, and the technical dialogue on the First Global Stocktake.
“As the Bonn conference is the first multilateral level meeting after the release of two key IPCC working group reports, we expect countries to arrive at Bonn fully realising the urgency of this crisis, and with the ambition to tackle it”, Sarr emphasised.
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