COP27: What are Global Leaders Saying at the UN Climate Summit 2022?
10 November 2022 – by UN Climate Summit
It’s finance day and it seems the cupboard is bare. It’s perhaps little surprise that US civil society COP veteran Alden Meyer dusted off his WTF (where’s the finance) badge from 2011. Little new cash has been offered in the past two days and there’s little indication of much more to come. Where ‘new’ money has been pledged (UK $1.5bn), check the small print – it’s not new. In fact much of what we’re witnessing here – a lack of support from wealthier countries amid a spiralling debt crisis in the Global South – is not new.
Meanwhile UN boss António Guterres ripped into the fossil fuel sector (again) last night at COP27 Egypt, riffing off the back of a new set of 10 net zero commandments from a panel of 17 experts including scientists, former banks, ministers and business leaders that he appointed. The vibe – net zero pledges from any company seeking to expand coal, oil and gas production are a joke. “Using bogus ‘net-zero’ pledges to cover up massive fossil fuel expansion is reprehensible,” he said. “It is rank deception. This toxic cover-up could push our world over the climate cliff. The sham must end”.
The panel set forth recommendations which form red lines for corporations, financiers, cities or regions’ net zero commitments. They can’t claim to be net zero if they’re continuing to support new fossil fuels or deforestation, if they’re buying dodgy offsets, if they’re only taking responsibility for a tiny part of their emissions or if their reporting isn’t transparent.
Indeed it seems not everyone was listening to the UN’s new zero tolerance approach to offsets being used as an excuse for inaction. Yesterday the African Carbon Markets Initiative – advised by voluntary offset market players – launched a roadmap for scaling Africa’s carbon credit outputs to the tune of $6 billion by 2030, and received some criticism from African CSOs. A fair few of the credits are for avoidance (i.e. they intend to protect forests that are projected to be cut down) but because these are so ripe for creative accounting, even Article 6 of the Paris Agreement forbids them from being used.
In the absence of any serious leadership from western countries in the past two days, it’s notable that smaller, poorer developing countries stepped up and are now setting the agenda. With Barbados PM Mia Mottley’s agenda to reform the IMF and World Bank, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh’s Climate Prosperity Plans and Kenya President Ruto’s 100% renewable pledge for 2030, are we starting to see an historic shift away from the dominance of the G7? Can the G7 countries interested in pushing a COP decision on “shifting the trillions” (Art 2.1c) make sure it actually delivers for the vulnerable countries who are still waiting for climate finance pledges to be delivered?
Who Said What
*Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan PM: “We have to spend billions of dollars to protect flood-affected people from further miseries and difficulties. How on earth can one expect from us that we will undertake this gigantic task on our own?”
*Gaston Browne, Alliance of Small Island States: “Profligate producers of fossil fuels are benefitting from extortionate profits at the expense of human civilization – while they are profiting, the planet is burning”.
*Paul Kagame, Rwanda President: “Rwanda is ready, like the rest of Africa, for renewable energy, we do this for our own future, the point is not to generate carbon credits so that others can continue using coal”.
*Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine President: “Russia needs to shut the gas and hide its missiles so the world hears finally what we can all really do together to save ourselves from the climate disaster”.
*Philip Davis, Bahamas PM: “I’m not telling you to overhaul the World Bank for this new climate area because it is the right thing to do, I’m telling you to act quickly to address the systemic risk of climate change”.
Mottley says she will have a concrete Bridgetown Agenda plan to reform the Bretton Woods institutions by February 2023, perhaps for the IMF Spring meetings, a deadline also mentioned by France’s Macron who threw G7 weight behind the agenda the previous day. It’s time to get into the “nitty gritty” of the plan, she told the media, pausing only as the roar of landing planes overhead rattled the marquee.
But she warned it will be a slog – there is no “beam me up, Scotty” answer to deep and systemic financial inequality, including the vast disparity in borrowing rates between the north and south. The agenda has support from a diverse group of global south countries including Ghana, South Africa, Cabo Verde and Suriname. Mottley wouldn’t be drawn on further G7 backing in addition to France, but said: “I am hopeful when we meet again that we are able to report progress.”
Sri Lanka is another country not hanging around. Indeed Kotte’s climate plan is worth a read. It’s gunning for investments of $26.53 billion through to 2030 that it says could boost clean energy by up to 70% and exceed 100% of domestic power needs by 2040. This would allow the country to export power to India, create a sustainable transport system, bring massive improvements to energy efficiency, improve resilience to extreme heat and more, according to the plan. Sri Lanka is in an economic crisis and is racing to get its key creditors – international investors, wealthy “Paris Club” countries and China – to agree to a debt plan to unlock a $2.9bn IMF facility. Will governments and investors who say they want to support climate change efforts in developing countries step up?
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