An Extinction Rebellion protest action at COP26, protest against the ‘“blood money” on which they say the UK economy is built.
An Extinction Rebellion protest action at COP26, protest against the ‘“blood money” on which they say the UK economy is built.

COP27: It’s all about the money

Climate finance will be the most important issue on the table at COP27.

The annual United Nations COP27 climate summit is just days away and all eyes are on Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, where the conference will be held this year. With Coca-cola as the conference’s official sponsor, civil society curtailments, and a large fossil fuel delegation expected — the summit has been riled with controversy even before commencement.

Rich nations that built their economies off of the fossil fuel industry, will be lobbied to deliver on the promise made back in 2009 to pay $100 billion per year in climate finance — an amount that is not based on science or the actual needs of the Global South. Many believe it is the minimum owed. Actual needs are estimated to be between $1.6 to $3.8 trillion a year. This finance, aimed at adaptation (adapting to climate change) and mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions) was to be operationalized by 2020.

“When we went to Copenhagen in 2009, asking for a FAB deal – a fair, ambitious, and binding deal, instead what we got was a FLAB deal — full of loopholes and bullshit. More than 11 years passed and guess what — nothing of substance has been paid,” said Kumi Naidoo, founding chair at Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity, at the People’s COP event on Tuesday.

Civil society is also demanding that climate finance is increased substantially and that higher post-2025 finance goals be set.

Image of COP26.

Loss and Damage finance, the financial climate reparations the Global North owes to countries on the frontlines of the climate crisis for the disasters they are already facing, will be the most pressing issue. This amount is owed to countries across the Global South, in addition to the $100 billion promise for adaptation and mitigation. Developing countries are fighting for this to be established as a new finance facility.

“Losses and damages are mounting for communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis, especially for the poorest who have contributed the least to the problem,” Rachel Cleetus, Policy Director, Climate and Energy Program, Union of Concerned Scientists said in a press conference.

“The success of COP27 depends crucially on the United States and other richer nations living up to their responsibilities to meaningfully address Loss and Damage, including delivering a clear near-term pathway for dedicated and ongoing funding.”

Some leaders are stepping up. Denmark, earlier this year, proposed funding $13.2 million to poorer nations for loss and damage. It is the first central government to do so, breaking away from the European Union consensus in the process. At COP26, Scotland pledged $2 million and the Wallonia region of Belgium earmarked $1 million for loss and damage.

The climate negotiation this year will be the most important ever for the issue of loss and damage, according to Christopher Bartlett, Climate Diplomacy Manager for the government of Vanuatu.

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, received the ‘Ray of the Day’ Award from Climate Action Network at COP26 for pledging money towards loss and damage finance.

The issue of Loss and Damage has been added to the agenda of the summit as a provisional agenda item —  a huge victory, especially for those from Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) and developing nations who have fought for this. But the fight continues for it to be a permanent and formal agenda item, so the topic is discussed every single year. Some developed countries are reluctant to support the issue and may take it off the agenda at the beginning of the COP.

“If you’re following the COP this year, follow the beginning. If they [rich countries] block it from being on the agenda, in my view, we can declare the COP a failure even before it starts,” said Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development and IPCC lead author.

Experts are also worried that the conference will be used by gas companies to push African countries into fossil fuel deals for rich Western countries. 

“The proliferation of gas on the African continent to remedy a short-term energy crisis in Europe is a reckless move that will further result in the plunder of the African continent as we have witnessed with rich fossil fuel corporates that have polluted, grabbed land and commons, violated land and people’s rights, compromised Africa’s food systems and impoverished Africa,” Lorraine Chiponda, Don’t Gas Africa campaign facilitator, said in a press conference.

A series of reports from last week show that there is no room for any delay in climate action. Urgent transformation is the only option. 

The UNEP emissions gap report clearly shows that based on current climate commitments, we are nowhere near staying within the 1.5 degrees C of warming limit by 2030. 

The policies currently in place aimed at addressing the crisis will still lead to 2.8 degrees C of warming by the end of the century. 

Even 2 degrees C of warming is a “death sentence” for the Global South, according to Fridays for Future India founder, Disha Ravi.

Rapid action and real zero commitments (not net zero) are needed to tackle climate change.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres outlined the need for action coming out of COP27 at a pre-COP meeting in Kinshasa, warning that the wealthiest nations are not delivering on the promises made while the world faces catastrophe.

“A third of Pakistan flooded. Europe’s hottest summer in 500 years. The Philippines hammered. The whole of Cuba in black-out. And here, in the United States, Hurricane Ian has delivered a brutal reminder that no country and no economy is immune from the climate crisis,” he said.

“The world can’t wait. Emissions are at an all-time high and rising”.

According to him, COP27 will be “the number one litmus test” of how seriously rich governments take the growing climate toll on the most vulnerable countries.

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