Finance can Trump the climate crisis

Donald Trump isn’t the only factor causing a downbeat mood at the UN climate talks in Marrakesh, says Action Aid climate lead Harjeet Singh. Acrimony over climate finance also threatens the success of the Paris Agreement.

rice paddy crops cyclone india
Rice paddy crops affected by cyclone in India. Strengthening disaster risk management and boosting agricultural resilience in Latin America, Africa and Asia-Pacific are some of the initiatives that would get funding from the Green Climate Fund. Image: Shutterstock

Ministers are arriving in Marrakech COP22 climate negotiations, for the first opening ceremony of the Paris Agreement. But if they were hoping to arrive to a party atmosphere celebrating the speedy entry into force of the new deal, they may need to lower their expectations.

The vibe here in Marrakech is much less positive than it was a year ago in Paris. But this is not only because of news from the recent U.S. election of Donald Trump. The underlying threat to the Paris agreement and a cooler planet lie in acrimony over climate finance.

Slamming doors 

Discussions here in Marrakech were supposed to be fairly technical and low-key. Where the negotiations in Paris were about agreeing the “what” to do on climate change, discussions here in Marrakech are about the “how”. Countries have spent the last week trying to agree the rules for implementing the new agreement on climate action. A key piece of that puzzle will be ensuring the money flows so that poorer countries can carry out that implementation.

Unfortunately, across every negotiating track, we are hearing the sound of doors slamming shut on finance. In discussions on national pledges, transparency, accounting, mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, agriculture and everything in between, developed countries are sending a subtle yet clear message that they will not be providing the funds that developing countries need.

But we know that the Paris Agreement cannot be implemented without finance for developing countries. Now that the Paris deal is done, poor countries feel that they are being left with the bill both for dealing with impacts and cutting emissions, amid a problem they did not cause.

For the Paris Agreement to meet its goal of addressing climate change, ministers arriving in Marrakech must recognise that finance is the key to action.

Need real finance

Instead of providing real finance, developed countries have put together a so-called “$100 Billion Roadmap” in which they claim that they are well on track to meet their commitment to provide $100 billion a year to support developing country action. But the Roadmap has been roundly debunked by both developing countries and civil society for its heavy reliance on loans, the private sector and previously committed development finance, to bulk up its claims.

Where the Roadmap claims it is on its way to delivering $67 billion, analysis by our friends at Oxfam suggests the true figure somewhere between $18 to 34 billion. Developing countries fear that the absence of agreed definitions and accounting rules of climate finance, and the misleading numbers in the $100 Billion Roadmap will allow developed countries to wash their hands of responsibility and walk away.

The election of Donald Trump to the U.S, presidency last week makes everyone  anxious as to what role the United States will play in the future of the climate talks and how the finance gap will be filled, as global temperatures continue to rise.

It is now time for other wealthy countries to recognise that they must step up and fill the gap. For the Paris Agreement to meet its goal of addressing climate change, ministers arriving in Marrakech must recognise that finance is the key to action.

Harjeet Singh is the global lead on climate change for ActionAid. This article is republished from the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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