By: Eddy Perez, Co-Coordinator, CAN Finance Working Group
As part of its efforts to increase momentum on climate finance, on March 31st, the UK COP 26 President is hosting a Ministerial event on Climate & Development and has invited G7 and several other rich countries and countries from the South to participate.
All items officially on this ministerial’s agenda, whether it is the quality and quantity of climate finance, access to finance, coping with the impacts of climate change, or achieving fiscal space amid debt pressures— point to one thing: in 2021, international climate finance flows must contribute to social justice, increased solidarity and trust. We must be reminded that this Ministerial takes place in the context of exacerbating and inequitable climate impacts, during the worst poverty crisis that developing countries have faced in over 50 years.
Given the clear hypocrisy between the UK’s pledge to further double climate finance by 2025, and recent massive UK cuts to ODA, the UK Presidency’s credibility on this topic is very low. The UK may use this summit as an opportunity to recognize the cutting of ODA as a mistake to be rectified.
Considering the impacts of the COVID-19 in developing countries’ economies and how political climate finance is 2021, the expectations around this ministerial and what it can accomplish in relation to future summits remain high. The Ministerial must provide credible and significant progress to rebuild trust among the Global North and the Global South ahead of COP26.
This event aims to influence the G7, G20, and COP26 outcomes. The outcomes of this meeting must be clear and set the right priorities for the right agenda. It cannot just come away with a selective mandate that is politically easy for contributor countries to deliver, but it must center the needs of developing countries as those who are hardest hit by climate impacts, and who have contributed the least to the problem. The benchmark of success is clear: Ministerial statements and the Chair’s Summary of the Ministerial should outline a strong commitment by contributor countries to increase the quantity and enhance the quality of public climate finance support ahead of COP26.
Contributor countries must come prepared and acknowledge that climate finance is not philanthropy, but based on legally binding obligations and the countries’ particular responsibility for causing climate change. At this Ministerial, vague signals on finance will be considered as unacceptable. Contributor countries must begin by signaling their intention to enhance their climate finance pledges in 2021.
The event must:
1) Demonstrate clear commitment by US, Canada, Germany, Japan, France, Italy, and other contributor countries to announce, before COP26, new pledges for rising climate finance levels for the period 2021-2025, to exceed the 100bn floor, with 50% of pledged finance dedicated to adaptation;
2) Commit to helping countries in the Global South achieve green and fair recoveries, particularly by providing public climate finance that helps countries transition away from fossil fuels;
3) Commit to increasing financial support for dealing with climate impacts and announce the way forward towards additional support to address Loss and Damage from climate impacts;
4) The Chair Summary must include an explicit commitment by both contributors and recipients, that programs are implemented in a socially just and locally-led way, including through strengthening gender equality and women’s leadership, inclusiveness, and truly participatory approaches.
Given the historic debt crisis, further exacerbated in many countries both by COVID-19 as well as climate extremes, there is no room for climate finance that is non-concessional or non-grant-based—particularly at a time when many developing countries are calling for debt relief for a green recovery.
Developing countries and civil society are tired of having to talk about green recovery when big polluter countries continue to finance fossil fuels worldwide, and tired of stressing climate finance needs when rich countries are not showing solidarity.
The Ministerial has to be a wake-up call to wealthier countries — if they want to see developing countries recover in an inclusive and sustainable way, financial support speaks louder than words, and is a matter of climate and social justice.