By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 7 2015 (IPS) - As the Paris climate talks move to its conclusion Friday, civil society groups are expressing serious concerns about the continued deadlock on a proposed package for funding amounting to about 100 billion dollars a year by 2020.
Celine Charveriat, director of Advocacy and Campaigns at Oxfam International said any step closer to the 100 billion mark is to be welcomed, but with the accounting being driven by donors and reflecting their choices on what and how to count, funds destined for the most vulnerable appear higher than they actually are.
Failure to place poor people front and centre risks making the adaptation gap even bigger, she added.
At this point of the Paris climate talks, Charveriat said, rich countries must at the very least respond to the recent proposal put forward by some African countries and commit to a substantial increase of adaptation support over the next five years.
“This will build trust and help the difficult negotiations on climate finance for after 2020. Climate finance, as part of the overall Paris deal, remains the ominous anomaly that can no longer be neglected if we are to get a strong agreement for poor people and the rest of the world.”
Climate funding remains in the slow lane, with little progress on how much will be available for the world’s poorest people to adapt to climate change once the Paris deal comes into force in 2020, according to Oxfam.
Prerna Bomzan, Policy Advocate for LDC Watch, representing the 48 least developed countries (LDCs), told IPS: it’s important to focus on the nature of finance which doesn’t get talked about at all and which is as important as actual figures.
“It’s imperative that climate finance be public finance and in the form of non-debt creating grants. It’s unacceptable that the least responsible LDCs should carry additional debt when they are already burdened with an unsustainable debt,” she added.
In a statement released Monday, Oxfam said announcements made ahead of the Paris talks were welcome, but they offer little comfort for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people who desperately need funding to adapt and protect themselves from climate change.
Despite living in the face of rising sea-levels, hunger and increasingly extreme and unpredictable weather, they have so far been left out in the cold.
Oxfam estimates that the new pledges would lead to only between 5.0 billion and 8.0 billion dollars in adaptation grants by 2020.
Martin Kaiser, International Climate Negotiations Head at Greenpeace said “at this point during climate talks in Copenhagen (in December 2009), we were dealing with a 300 page text and a pervasive sense of despair”.
“In Paris, we’re down to a slim 21 pages and the atmosphere remains constructive. But that doesn’t guarantee a decent deal. Right now the oil-producing nations and the fossil fuel industry will be plotting how to crash these talks when ministers arrive next week,” he added.
He said the enemies of a decent deal know they have one week to kill words in the text that commit the world to ‘full decarbonization’.
“They know that would set us on a path towards 100 percent renewables by the middle of the century. Those regressive forces will fight instead for words that call for a ‘low emission transformation’, knowing that such a watered down phrase will do almost nothing to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”
There is a whole heap of work still to do here in Paris, but as things stand our report card reads: optimistic about the process, less so about the content, Kaiser added.
Meanwhile, in a report released last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there are number of solutions for mobilizing investments to accelerate action on climate change.
First, the study recommends that national governments adopt policies and incentives that encourage cities to invest in low-emission and climate-resilient infrastructure.
Second, it urges cities to adopt frameworks that put a price on carbon, such as cap-and-trade mechanisms or traffic congestion charges.
Third, it recommends strengthening banks and institutions that will support cities to develop climate-related projects.
Finally, the report calls for creating an innovation network for new financial instruments and funding models.