Calls for climate justice and climate finance otherwise known as reparation for developing countries plagued by human and natural disasters was hotly debated at the just concluded United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Ibrahim Apekhade Yusuf examines the issues with agency reports
Climate finance was one of the many sticky points hotly debated at the COP27 and this was why. Climate finance is money set out from the public and private sector to help developing nations mitigate climate change and essentially to help cut their greenhouse gas emissions and transition to cleaner energy sources. That’s mitigation, adaptation. It is the same principle of money from developed to developing countries but this time to help them adapt to the consequences of climate change.
Who should pay for impacts of climate change?
Historically some countries known to contribute the most to global warming are expected to pay. One of the arguments being made by the developing nations is that the G7 are responsible for over 80 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions. But the question is who bears the brunt of the climate change crisis the most?
Of course, tensions are rising between the North and Global South over the crisis considering the enormous damage to climate change.
Expectedly, rich nations have pledged to mobilise $100billion yearly to developing countries. But so far, the closest they have come is $80billion. The money is meant to be a piggy bank for climate-induced extreme weather events. It’s an insurance mechanism for developing nations that have been hit by climate-related disasters.
Hurricanes, floods or slow onset events like rising sea levels. We are talking about financial reparations for disasters developing nations cannot adapt to. We are very far from the billions of dollars the NGOs say would be needed in order to properly compensate developing nations. And that’s because rich countries continue to resist calls to loosen purse strings as they don’t want to set a precedent and potentially expose themselves to a string of claims from other countries.
For example, in Pakistan, the recovery cost of the recent deadly flood could rise to $30billion. Leaders at COP27 will inevitably discuss if the west should be held accountable for such damages. But with climate disaster becoming more frequent, and more severe, it’s costs that they are reluctant to take on. Clearly, this question of global solidarity and climate justice was at the heart of discussion at the COP27.
Discussion sessions changed dynamics at COP27
Discussions within the roundtable, co-chaired by HE Charles Michel, President of the European Council and HE Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, emphasised the need for strategies, policies, mobilisation of appropriate finance at scale, technology, capacity building and major investment to ensure a just transition for the affected communities.
The massive scale of the challenges requires major efforts exerted by not just by governments and the energy sector but also from international financial institutions and donors, as well as multilateral development banks and other non-state actors.
Participants underscored that transition must be just and inclusive, leaving no one behind. The affected communities must be brought along, own the transition processes and being part of the solution. While some best practices exist, there is no one-size fits all approach and financial support and capacity building need to be adjusted to specific needs and each country’s contexts.
They also discussed opportunities for job creation arising from new economic activities that require establishing mechanisms that would allow for forms of training, capacity building, forms of reallocations of resources, including creating social protection systems that support transition.
Several participants stressed on the importance of finance as a key component in implementing a just transition, as public finance can provide the right conditions for private financing to achieve the scale required, such as reducing investment risk. Others emphasized that the multilateral financial architecture plays a crucial role in mobilising public and private finance, which can unlock the barriers developing countries are facing.
During the discussion, participants discussed the role of digital transformation in the transition towards a low-carbon economy and the need to take that into account while designing climate and social policies in support of the transition.
Several solutions were demonstrated to deliver on finance and committing to pledges through different approaches such as partnerships or by leveraging existing partnerships, provisions of grants, provisions of concessional loans, or debt reliefs, in particular, for developing and middle income countries. These means can also be used to assist those who are impacted adversely by the transition or to lower the capital costs and unlock private finance to achieve a just transition.
Making a case for Africa
In her submission, Dr. Zainab Usman, a senior fellow and director of the Africa Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C, justified the need for Africa’s participation in the process, noting that it is in the interest of the continent to get as much concession as possible given its propensity to suffer some unmitigated disasters fueled in part by the environment.
Ms Usman fields of expertise include institutions, economic policy, energy policy, and emerging economies in Africa gives her enough latitude to engage in discourse analysis, said “One main reason, perhaps, why African priorities barely make it to the top of the agenda is that the continent’s researchers are severely underrepresented in the science that underpins global climate policy and debate.
“Not only are African voices missing from influential climate science publications, but 78% of global funding for climate research on Africa goes to researchers in North America and Europe, while only 3.8% goes to researchers on the continent, according to this IPCC Sixth Assessment Report.”
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To help address the problem of underrepresentation of African voices in climate science, policy and debate, Usman said her organisation came up with the African Climate Research Organisations Database.
“Expanding on an initiative we started in 2021, the database is an interactive website that compiles a list of Africa-based research organisations working on climate-related technical and policy issues. We have tracked at least 154 Africa-based organisations working on various climate change-related areas.”
UK largesse to tackle climate change in Nigeria
It is however instructive to note that the United Kingdom has announced the provision of £95 million to support Nigeria with respect to the development of climate-resilient agriculture programmes.
The funding, according to its Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, will support more than four million people, including two million women, to increase productivity while reducing emissions.
Announcing the support at the COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Cleverly disclosed that the investment is part of the efforts on tangible action to deliver on the commitments made at COP26 in Glasgow and support developing economies to tackle the impacts of climate change.
The statement reads: “The Prime Minister is expected to make a raft of adaptation-related announcements at the conference later today, including that the UK will triple funding for adaptation programmes from £500 million in 2019 to £1.5 billion in 2025.
“Cleverly will also argue that long-term prosperity depends on taking action on climate change and ramping up investment in renewable energy across the world, pointing to the impact of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine on the global economy.
“The Foreign Secretary will announce today that the UK will provide £20.7 million in Disaster Risk Financing to support countries which face climate-related disasters, helping them to afford insurance and to access reliable funding, more quickly, after a disaster.
“As an example, this funding will allow the World Food Programme to insure food supplies for almost 5 million people across 23 vulnerable countries in cases of climate-related disasters and will help small island developing states build resilience to extreme weather events.
“This support is part of the commitment made in 2021 at the UK G7 in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, to spend £120 million on Disaster Risk Financing.
“The UK will also announce several new funding allocations to support countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change over the longer term. The UK will spend £13 million to support vulnerable countries to adapt to climate impacts, and towards efforts to avert, minimise and address loss and damage, including through new funding for the Santiago Network, an organisation set up to support vulnerable countries to access technical assistance.
“In Nigeria, the UK will provide a £95 million investment to support the development of climate-resilient agriculture programmes, for example through scaling up heat-tolerant crop varieties. The funding will support more than four million people, including two million women, to increase productivity while reducing emissions.
“Under the UK’s COP Presidency, almost all developed country climate finance providers made new, forward-looking climate finance commitments, with many doubling or even quadrupling support for developing countries to take climate action.”
Lifeline from Bill & Melinda Gates
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation echoed African leaders’ calls for countries to rapidly scale-up finance for climate adaptation and pledged to invest $1.4 billion to help smallholder farmers address the immediate and long-term impacts of climate change.
CEO Gates Foundation Mark Suzman announced this at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27).
“The effects of climate change have already been devastating, and every moment the world delays action, more people suffer, and the solutions become more complex and costly,” said Suzman.
“Our commitment will help smallholder farmers adapt today and build resilience for the future. It is essential for this climate summit to produce bold commitments that address immediate and long-term needs. Leaders must listen to the voices of African farmers and governments to understand their priorities and respond with urgency.”
The foundation’s commitment will fund immediate action and long-term initiatives over four years to help smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia build resilience and food security. Funding will focus on spurring African-led innovation to build a pipeline of climate-smart agriculture projects, new applications of digital technologies, climate-smart innovations for smallholder livestock farming, and support for women smallholder farmers to capitalise on their untapped potential.
”Women in rural Africa are the backbone of their food systems, but they have never had equal access to the resources they need to reach their full potential or build resilience to looming climate threats,” said Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
”As the climate crisis accelerates, women’s vital role in their economies is too important to overlook. With the right financing and marketing support, women smallholder farmers could earn more in a day than they currently earn in a month, ultimately transforming these regional food systems and unlocking a healthier, more sustainable, and more prosperous future for families and communities across the continent.”
To improve the livelihoods of rural women in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the foundation is deepening its ongoing partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
The goal is to scale up initiatives that empower women farmers, support innovations at the nexus of gender and climate adaptation, and increase climate finance that gives rural women better access to the climate-smart resources they need to strengthen food systems.
To accelerate the development of new adaptation innovations, the foundation is continuing to work with a coalition of partners to double the budget for the CGIAR agriculture research system. The CGIAR Excellence in Agronomy initiative partners with African research institutes, local businesses, and farmer organizations. Together, they are using big data, analytics, and digital platforms to deliver insights that can boost incomes, food security, and ecosystem health in smallholder farming communities.
“The climate crisis is causing enormous harm every day as it jeopardizes entire regions of people and economies,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “More funding is necessary to ensure agricultural and technological innovations are widely available to vulnerable communities, helping them to adapt to climate change, save lives and increase economic growth.”