The United Kingdom, as the incoming President of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC26th )'s Conference of Parties (COP26), which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November, held a ministerial meeting on March 31 to discuss the issue of raising adequate funds to enable developing countries to combat climate change.
Ministers from almost 40 poor and developed countries, as well as significant institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, were invited by the COP26 Presidency (IMF). Although individual speakers' speeches were not made public, the COP26 Presidency issued a summary of the debates, along with commitments of future action from the UK as COP26 President.
The good news is that this was a significant conference on one of the most pressing global concerns, one that will determine not just the success of COP26, but also, more importantly, how developing countries will deal with the reality of climate change, which is already affecting them. The meeting's main topic was rich countries' promise, announced in 2015 in the Paris Agreement, to provide a total of USD 100 billion to developing countries per year from 2020 onwards. Another topic of discussion was the fact that this sum was intended to serve as a foundation, to be built upon in later years. Unfortunately, the current experience has fallen short in terms of both the total amount granted in 2020 and the distribution of support between mitigation and adaptation. Vulnerable poor countries sought a 50-50 share of funds for mitigation and adaptation, but in practice, mitigation has received 80% of the support and only 20% for adaptation.
By June of this year, the COP26 Presidency vowed to encourage wealthy countries to increase their share of adaptation funding for the most vulnerable developing countries. This will be a significant conclusion of COP26, as the developing countries' COP goals will not be met without financial assistance. Another beneficial outcome of the ministerial conference was the recognition of the importance of recognizing and acting on the issue of loss and damage. This would entail preparing the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage, which was agreed to be established in 2019 at COP25 in Madrid, Spain. During the COP26 meeting, the UK COP26 Presidency intends to hold some consultations on this.
However, a more important aspect in terms of dealing with loss and damage is financing the victims. This was, unfortunately, not resolved at COP25 in Madrid but it was agreed that there would be an exploration of potential avenues for new and additional sources of finance for loss and damage, and there are some ideas for how this can be done.
The first point is that this issue has become politically sensitive due to the framing of liability and compensation from the polluting countries, which the developed countries are not willing to acknowledge yet. This does not rule out the prospect of gathering cash from governments and non-governmental organizations by presenting the issue as one of solidarity rather than liability and compensation. This might be accomplished by crowdsourcing funds from citizens or organizations in any country to help the poorest climate change victims in the world's most vulnerable developing countries. One alternative for managing such a fund is a partnership of significant international non-governmental organizations. Another option is to use the fund that the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) countries have already established.
Different governments and groups have also proposed some fantastic alternatives, such as debt swaps or even pre-disaster financial assistance (such as the forecast-based financing that the Red Cross has initiated in a number of countries)
These are only a few of the proposals that could be discussed in advance of and during COP26, with a choice to make them more tangible by COP27, which will be held in Africa in 2022.
The necessity for financial assistance for the poorest victims in the poorest developing countries has become an inevitable reality that must be addressed appropriately. Out of a sense of sympathy with the victims of human-caused climate change, all governments and non-governmental entities should come up with proposals that can be implemented.