Climate finance remains key hurdle

People walk at the green zone of the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, during the COP27 climate conference in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of the same name, on November 9, 2022. PHOTO | AFP

Did the 27th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, achieve anything?

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi set the tone weeks before he hosted what was billed as the “Africa COP”.

That the world understood better the extent of the disruptive climate impacts and what was required.

Was this manifested in the two-week talks that had more than 100 heads of state and governments attending? Was the climate “loss and damage” fund all that the vulnerable nations were yearning for?

How about commitment to steep carbon emission cuts? What happened to the $100 billion pledged in 2009?

A disappointed Alok Sharma, COP27 President vehemently pinpointed the watered-down statement that appeared to waver on Glasgow commitments.

The kitty was billed as a breakthrough for Africa – a spotlight on parties seen as responsible for the irreversible damage from climate change.

But was that all the Global South wanted? Will the Global North commit the funds they so begrudgingly agreed to? Will voters in rich countries easily accept bankrolling efforts to curb climate change?

“The delegates failed to make a clear commitment. The best they could produce was a vague agreement that rich countries should pay poor ones for climate-related loss and damage,” wrote the Economist.

Speaking via a video link at the KUSI Festival by the Nation Media Group (NMG) on climate change held at Karura Forest last month, Rwandan President Paul Kagame was terse: “Big emitters must pay their dues. Africa needs results-oriented partnerships.”

Wilfred Kiboro, NMG Chairman urged Africa to act. “We cannot wait for the western world to come to our aid.”

The unmet climate financing promises and the wavering on steep emission cuts signify a deficit in global cooperation and leadership at the expense of four billion people in vulnerable nations.

The urgency to cut carbon emissions appears not to be a shared one even as consensus builds that the planet is heating up fast.

For the past 172 years, rich nations have been the largest emitters of heat-trapping gases as poorer nations are left to deal with climate disasters.

The 2015 Paris accord had two temperature goals – to keep the rise below 2°C and keep the increase to a maximum of 1.5°C.

In Glasgow, it was agreed that the focus will be on the 1.5°C limit with a yearly boost, a process known as a ratchet. At Cop27, some countries tried to renege on the goal and abolish the ratchet.

They failed. UN Chief Antonio Guterres left a worried man. “We need to drastically reduce emissions now and this is an issue this COP did not address.” Did poorer nations get the short end of the stick?

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