Wednesday, 29 May 2024 23:20

More climate funding needed to ‘transition from rhetoric to decisive action’

Climate action taken so far to help fund efforts in cash-strapped small island developing States (SIDS) “does not measure up to what has been said” in the wake of COP28 in Dubai last year.

That was the strong message from President of the Western Pacific nation of Palau Surangel Whipps speaking at an Interactive Dialogue on Wednesday during the Fourth International Conference on SIDS (SIDS4), taking place this week on the twin island of Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean.

He told delegates there needed to be a “transition from rhetoric to decisive action”.

But representatives from two European nations committed to climate financing said news just hours earlier from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) confirming that a total of $115.9 billion had been raised in 2022 for climate action in developing countries, showed that substantial progress is being made.

In 2009, COP15 established the goal of mobilizing $100 billion per year for climate action in the developing world, by 2020.

UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
President Surangel S. Whipps of Palau addresses the Interactive Dialogue on making climate finance work during the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States.

Building on Dubai

Today’s session was designed to build on commitments made in Dubai which established the crucial Loss and Damage Fund to help SIDS and other vulnerable nations to offset the impacts of extreme weather, rising sea-levels and coastal erosion.

President Whipps said increasing support for SIDS was not just vital for their survival “but essential for solving the world’s climate challenges.”

He added that “we need robust and accountable international climate finance mechanisms that deliver real results.”

Jennifer Morgan, Germany’s Special Envoy for climate action, addresses the Interactive Dialogue on making climate finance work during the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Jennifer Morgan, Germany’s Special Envoy for climate action, addresses the Interactive Dialogue on making climate finance work during the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States.

Keep listening

Jennifer Morgan, Germany’s Special Envoy for climate action, agreed that the world must build on the COP28 commitments, which include a just and fair transition away from fossil fuels and financing resilience and adaptation.

Currently, 90 per cent of all green investments go to the developed nations and China.

She hailed the OECD announcement as a breakthrough and said SIDS could make “a really unique contribution” to the COP28 commitment to phase out deforestation by 2030.

Looking ahead to COP29 taking place in Baku in November, she said “we will need to listen to each other even more than ever” to find solutions that can secure climate action at scale.

Naadir Hassan, Minister for Finance Economic Planning and Trade of the Seychelles, addresses the Interactive Dialogue on making climate finance work during the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Naadir Hassan, Minister for Finance Economic Planning and Trade of the Seychelles, addresses the Interactive Dialogue on making climate finance work during the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States.

Naadir Hassan, Minister for Finance Economic Planning and Trade of the Seychelles, said COP28 had been “a significant step forward” for SIDS but he echoed Mr. Whipps stating rhetoric versus action on the ground was key.

There’s no time to waste, he said, citing the fact that the coastal infrastructure of the Seychelles already “falling into the sea.”

“This year I will attend my fourth COP and we’ve been talking about these issues since I’ve been minister for the last three-plus years, but we have not seen a single dollar come into our countries in terms of really funding climate adaptation measures.”

This is where the lack of action is stark, he added, despite the promise of $85 billion coming into the Loss and Damage Fund, and a replenishment of $12.8 billion for the Green Climate Fund — with a further $188 million for the Adaptation Fund.

We need to see this money materialize in SIDS economies “in a very urgent way”, he told delegates, estimating the cost of adaptation and mitigation in his island nation over the next decade to be $600m and warning that the next 10 years to fight climate change: “We’ve really got to move faster.”

A view of Jolly Beach in Antigua and Barbuda, the host of the fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4).
UN News/Matt Wells
A view of Jolly Beach in Antigua and Barbuda, the host of the fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4).

He lamented that because many SIDS are categorized Middle-Income, they were “completely cut off” from concessional financing reserved for the poorest.

“We’ve got to change the whole global financial architecture in a way that SIDS can really push forward and adapt to the new global environment.”

Tomas Anker Christensen, Denmark’s Special Envoy for Climate, provided more reassurance from a major funder’s perspective when he said that Wednesday’s OECD report was a major success for climate funding.

He said even if countries like the Seychelles had not seen funds reach them directly from countries like his, their support for climate initiatives from the Green Environment Fund, World Bank and others, is significant.

Denmark pledged to donate to the Loss and Damage Fund and worked hard to launch it, he added, noting that the Green Climate Fund had taken seven to eight years to become operational, while the Loss and Damage Fund would be up and running in just two.

Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), addresses the Interactive Dialogue on making climate finance work during the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), addresses the Interactive Dialogue on making climate finance work during the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States.

Climate goals aligning

The Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Simon Stiell returned to the charge that there was too much rhetoric and not enough action.

He stressed that being on the same page was important: “there is an alignment in terms of the language and we ‘ve made great progress within the process over the past few years.”

“Where we are short is in building momentum for action”, he added, singling out the Global Stocktake agreed at COP28 to take an inventory on climate action progress. Not enough progress has been made “but it gave us that roadmap as to how we now move forward within the next period.”

Mr. Stiell said it was clear that the upcoming COPs in Baku, Azerbaijan, and Belém Brazil, will be the real test of “whether we are shifting from words into action.”

He too welcomed the OECD figures announced on Wednesday and said there is now an opportunity to consider what the transition to renewable energy really means for SIDS.

He said it amounts to “economic transformation. Removing that dependency on fossil fuels, the foreign exchange leakages, the high costs of energy which impacts competitiveness, cost of living and disposable incomes – this is absolutely critical to your regional development.”

Mr. Stiell further stated that the next two years will determine “whether we’re shifting from words into action.”

He added that the UNFCCC would assist all SIDS in their pursuit of more climate finance “in achieving the greatest possible outcome in COPS29 and 30.”

UN and Global Environment Facility launch new $135 million fund

In a further boost to financing action to tackle climate change the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) launched a new $135 million Blue and Green Islands Integrated Programme (BGI-IP).

The initiative aims to emphasize the crucial role of nature and expand nature-based solutions to combat environmental degradation in three key sectors: urban development, food production, and tourism.

The initiative targets fifteen SIDS, to promote nature-positive change. Managed by the UNDP and funded by the GEF and partners, it represents a new wave of support for SIDS as they embark on the Decade of Action from 2024 to 2034.

"SIDS are on the frontlines of climate change and nature loss as they face harsh realities of sea level rise, more unpredictable weather patterns, and degraded ecosystems, yet their unique situation also means that they are also driving forward a remarkable range of innovative and interconnected solutions," said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.