Not less than half of the global climate finance of $100 billion is now mandatory to build resilience and support adaptation to climate change. To address the dire impacts of climate disruption, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, is stressing the need for adaptation and resilience, which he maintained requires committing to the finance.
Conference of the Parties (COP16) Accord states that: “developed country Parties commit, in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, to a goal of mobilising jointly $100 billion per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries”.
At COP 21, it was also decided that developed countries intend to continue their existing collective mobilisation goal through 2025 in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, and that prior to 2025 the COP serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement shall set a new collective quantified goal from a floor of $100 billion per year, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries.
“We simply cannot achieve our shared climate goals – nor achieve hope for lasting peace and security – if resilience and adaptation continue to be the forgotten half of the climate equation”, Guterres said.
Climate finance however, refers to local, national or transnational financing—drawn from public, private and alternative sources of financing—that seeks to support mitigation and adaptation actions that will address climate change.
The Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement call for financial assistance from Parties with more financial resources to those that are less endowed and more vulnerable. This recognizes that the contribution of countries to climate change and their capacity to prevent it and cope with its consequences vary enormously.
Climate finance is needed for mitigation, because large-scale investments are required to significantly reduce emissions. Climate finance is equally important for adaptation, as significant financial resources are needed to adapt to the adverse effects and reduce the impacts of a changing climate.
In accordance with the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities” set out in the Convention, developed country Parties are to provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties in implementing the objectives of the UNFCCC.
The Paris Agreement reaffirms the obligations of developed countries, while for the first time also encouraging voluntary contributions by other Parties. Developed country Parties should also continue to take the lead in mobilising climate finance from a wide variety of sources, instruments and channels, noting the significant role of public funds, through a variety of actions, including supporting country-driven strategies, and taking into account the needs and priorities of developing country Parties.
Such mobilisation of climate finance should represent a progression beyond previous efforts. It is important for all governments and stakeholders to understand and assess the financial needs of developing countries, as well as to understand how these financial resources can be mobilized. Provision of resources should also aim to achieve a balance between adaptation and mitigation.
Overall, efforts under the Paris Agreement are guided by its aim of making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development. Assessing progress in provision and mobilisation of support is also part of the global stocktake under the Agreement. The Paris Agreement also places emphasis on the transparency and enhanced predictability of financial support.
While warning that “our window of opportunity” to prevent the worst climate impacts is “rapidly closing”, the UN chief told the Security Council over the weekend that no region is immune to climate disasters.
Drawing attention to the “deeply alarming” report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last month, Guterres spelled out that “much bolder climate action is needed” to maintain international peace and security, and urged the G20 industrialised nations to step up and drive action before the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in early November.
Against the backdrop of wildfires, flooding, droughts and other extreme weather events, the UN chief said that “no region is immune”. And, he pointed out that the climate crisis is “particularly profound” with compounded by fragility and conflict.
Describing climate change and environmental mismanagement as “risk multipliers”, he explained that last year, climate-related disasters displaced more than 30 million people and that 90 per cent of refugees come from countries least able to adapt to the climate crisis.
Many of these refugees are hosted by States also suffering the impacts of climate change, “compounding the challenge for host communities and national budgets”, Mr. Guterres told ambassadors, adding that the COVID pandemic is also undermining governments’ ability to respond to climate disasters and build resilience.
Maintaining that “it is not too late to act”, the top UN official highlighted three “absolute priorities”, beginning with capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.
To avert catastrophic climate impacts, he urged all Member States to up their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – plans through which countries commit to increasingly ambitious climate action – before COP26 and to translate those commitments into “concrete and immediate action”.
“Collectively, we need a 45 per cent cut in global emissions by 2030”, he said.
Climate adaptation and peacebuilding “can and should reinforce each other”, he said, highlighting cross-border projects in West and Central Africa that have “enabled dialogue and promoted more transparent management of scarce natural resources”.
And noting that “women and girls face severe risks from both climate change and conflict”, he underscored the importance of their “meaningful participation and leadership” to bring “sustainable results that benefit more people”.
The UN is integrating climate risks into conflict prevention, peacebuilding initiatives and its political analysis, the Secretary-General explained.
“The Climate Security Mechanism is supporting field missions, country teams and regional and sub-regional organisations…[and] work is gaining traction in countries and regions where the Security Council has recognized that climate and ecological change are undermining stability”, he said.
Acknowledging that 80 per cent of the UN’s own carbon emissions come from its six largest peacekeeping operations, Guterres said the Organization had to do better.
He assured that the UN is working on new approaches to shift to renewable energy producers, which will continue “beyond the lifetime of our missions”.
“We are all part of the solution. Let us all work together to mitigate and adapt to climate disruption to build peaceful and resilient societies”, concluded the Secretary-General.
Moment to act
Chairing the meeting, Ireland’s Prime Minister, Micheál Martin underscored the importance for the 15-member body to take a greater role in climate assessment and mitigation, including through peacekeeping operations and mandates.
“People affected by climate change-driven conflict depend on this Council for leadership”, he said. “Now is the moment for the Council to act”.