Climate-Vulnerable Countries Call for Financial Support, Welcome US-China Deal
Nearly one million Somalians were affected by flooding in 2020, as the effects of climate change intensify.

With the annual United Nations (UN) climate conference, COP28, due to start at the end of the month, climate-vulnerable countries have reiterated that wealthy countries should cut down their carbon emissions, provide finance to vulnerable countries, and help with technology transfer so all countries can transition to a greener economy faster. 

Meanwhile, recent meetings between the world’s superpowers and biggest polluters, the US and China, offer a glimmer of hope that there might be some progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“From our perspective, we first of all call for a truthful global stocktake, truthful to our successes and also failures so all countries can face the truth that we in the vulnerable countries already know,” said Tony La Viña, associate director for Climate Policy and International Relations at the Manila Observatory in the Philippines. 

He was addressing a press conference convened last Thursday by Allied for Climate Transformation By 2025 (ACT2025), a coalition that represents voices and expertise from all over the world committed to understanding and amplifying the climate priorities of vulnerable countries and ensuring they are heard at UN climate negotiations. 

Roughly half of the world’s population lives in countries that are vulnerable to the changing climate, according to climate scientists, and ACT25 representatives called for COP28 to be the place where the rich countries to deliver on climate finance and up their climate ambitions.

ACT25 members expressed alarm at the latest data from the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) November bulletin shows that greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere have reached record levels, and will continue to trap heat and drive climate change for many years.


Climate and health

Chukwumerije Okereke, director of the Center for Climate Change and Development at Nigeria’s Alex-Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, called for more attention to be paid to the connection between climate and health

“I come from the part of Nigeria that has begun to see more incidence of malaria as a result of the changes in weather patterns,” he said. “There are quite a range of different health issues. Flooding is one of the biggest challenges faced in Nigeria. And after each flood, we see an escalation of cholera and other health-related challenges.”

For the first time, a day has been set aside at COP28 to do precisely that.

The World Health Organization estimates that the direct damage costs to health is estimated to be between US$ 2–4 billion per year by 2030. Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases could result in very large gains for health, particularly through reduced air pollution.

China-US pledge

Earlier this month, US and China’s climate envoys met and reaffirmed their commitment to working together to address the climate crisis according to the Sunnylands statement released after the meeting.

The two envoys expressed commitment to implementing previous agreements, including “the effective implementation of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, reflecting equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances, to achieve the Paris Agreement’s aim in accordance with its Article 2 to hold the global average temperature increase to well below 2 degrees C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees C, including efforts to keep 1.5 degrees C within reach.”

Meanwhile, according to the White House statement following last week’s meeting between US President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jingping, the two leaders “welcomed recent positive discussions between their respective special envoys for climate, including on national actions to reduce emissions in the 2020s, on common approaches toward a successful COP28, and on operationalising the Working Group on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s to accelerate concrete climate actions.

The US is ready to work with China to address “transnational challenges, such as health security and debt and climate finance in developing countries and emerging markets,” it added.

ACT25 members welcomed the recent US-China energy deal that aims to triple renewable energy globally by 2030 and deliver a meaningful reduction in carbon emissions in the power sector by the end of this decade. This is significant given the two countries are among the top two carbon emitters. 

G20 countries, a group of some of the world’s largest economies that are together responsible for over 80% of the global carbon emissions made a similar pledge in September this year during their meeting in New Delhi, India to expand renewable energy.

Mark Bynoe, assistant executive director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre

But Mark Bynoe, assistant executive director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, said: “It seems like, rather than scaling back, we are continuing to experience and to see that we are investing more in oil and gas. 

“Countries that would have said we need to take a conscious decision of moving away are now investing in oil and gas. The subsidies that we need to cut back on is now increasing towards oil and gas,” added Bynoe.

The International Monetary Fund has estimated that the subsidies given to fossil fuels have surged to $7 trillion. 

Demand rising for private finance

However, vulnerable countries do not expect any radical change at COP28, with the meetings not delivering much gains, year after year. But they also haven’t written off the process, as it is the only global place for global climate negotiations.

“Largely, as we have recognized, most of these agreements are gentleman’s agreements. They are not binding and as a result, it is difficult to hold the country to something that they would have pledged to,” said Bynoe.

The ACT25 members are now also beginning to talk about private finance to address the gaps in climate finance – mainly stemming from wealthy countries not providing the resources necessary to assist low- and middle-income countries to mitigate climate change.

“We need from the corporate, the financial, the private sector, greater involvement, greater transparency and a commitment to make sure that the resources are mobilised towards the global south, towards those most in need,” Maria Laura Rojas Vallejo, executive director of Transforma in Colombia.

Image Credits: AP.

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