Dubai climate summit: 'Virtually all funds are underfunded'
Dubai is teeming with world leaders these days at the United Nations' annual climate conference. What can we expect? We look ahead with university lecturer and environmental politics specialist Shiming Yang. 'The funding always comes slowly.'
'One of the key issues this year is the global stocktake,' Yang begins. 'When the Paris Agreement aimed to keep global warming well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it was decided that every five years all participating countries would evaluate what they had achieved and whether their commitment was sufficient.'
The outcome of this global stocktaking won’t be a surprise: 'It’s clear that we are not there yet,’ says Yang. ‘A technical report on the first global stocktake published this September shows that although the Paris Agreement has spurred near-universal action that significantly reduces forecasts of future warming, current commitments, as shown in INDCs, fall far short of what is needed to keep the world on track to meet the 1.5°C or 2°C threshold max. There is a huge gap between current and desired levels of ambition and implementation regarding emissions, adaptation, funding, and compensation for loss and damage, and the window to raise our ambitions is closing.’
As developing countries now emit over half of GHG globally, their actions are essential in keep the 1.5°C goal alive. However, climate financing remains the biggest roadblock between global North and South. 'The high-income countries have promised to make $100 billion a year available from 2020,' Yang explains. ‘This promise was finally fulfilled two years after 2020, but significantly more financial resources need to be mobilised to make decarbonisation and adaptation realistic in developing countries. As the climate crisis intensifies, the financial need grows every year for mitigation as well as for adaptation and compensation for loss and damage. Despite increasing numbers of multilateral funds, major funds, such as the Green Climate Fund, are not being replenished by major countries such as the US.’
Still, a new climate fund is likely to be added. 'The agreement to establish a loss and damage fund was the biggest achievement from the COP27,' Yang reflects. This fund aims to provide financial assistance to the most vulnerable countries to deal with the negative consequences of climate change. ‘This climate summit will hopefully agree on the institutional and financial arrangements, as well as the governing structure of the fund. The main questions are: who will contribute to the fund, in what proportion will tey do that, and who can access the fund?’
US and China
Initially, all eyes in this regard were focused on the United States and China. After years of a tense relationship, several meetings took place recently between the world's largest emitters. And some progress was made: a few weeks ago, in a joint statement, they reaffirmed their commitment to implement the Paris Agreement and to enhanced cooperation on energy transition, methane and non-CO2 GHG emissions, and institutional cooperation that will include concrete measures. Yang: ‘Despite the fact that neither Biden nor Xi will attend the COP28 in person, the US-China bilateral agreements, such as the one in November 2014 where both countries made unprecedented GHG reduction pledges, can inject confidence into the COP process.’
'Ensure climate adaptation'
'Reflecting on the first global stocktake, I think several individual countries will increase their financial contribution, but it will probably still be less than what IPCC (the UN climate department, ed.) is calling for,' Yang summed up her remaining expectations. 'Even if we stop emitting greenhouse gases straight away, we will probably exceed the 1.5°degrees warming mark. That makes climate adaptation more important than ever. The better we manage that, the fewer people will die from climate disasters.'