November 9, 2017  |  

Day 3 at COP 23: Climate Finance – a big, important, and problematic topic

I have taken up the task to write the blogpost of our third day at COP23. This blogpost is about one of the big topics at this year’s conference: Climate Finance.

What may you ask about Climate Finance? In brief, Climate Finance concerns the money that (mainly the developed countries) should provide for the purpose of mitigating and adapting to climate change. In the Paris Agreement, the parties decided to provide 100 billion dollars each year by 2020.

So what is the problem if the parties had already decided the amount? One of the big problems is that the governments involved are not legally forced to pay. This means governments decide how much to fund. The unfortunate consequence is that we are struggling to get enough money funded–we are at a depressing 10 billion dollars.

Another big problem regarding climate finance is accounting. Firstly, countries have different ways of calculating their climate finance contribution. Some countries count only grants in their contribution while other countries include loans. Those countries which include the loans appear to fund a lot of money, in reality the loans provided would have to be paid back by developing countries.

Inside the conference room (Day 3 in COP23)

Here we come to the discussion of “climate justice”. I would like to briefly mention what the RGE team discussed yesterday at our daily live-update (at World YMCA facebook). We talked about climate justice—how the countries which are responsible for carbon dioxide emissions should pay for mitigating and adapting them, in particular when the consequences of Climate Change is affecting other countries. Would it be just for countries to get away by providing loans to the vulnerable small island states?

Furthermore, accounting in climate finance relates to the way of how countries evaluate the cost and effectiveness of the projects in combating climate change.  Some countries choose to report the total cost of a project, even though only 20% of actual sum is focusing on / combating climate issues. Some countries do it more accurately by providing the breakdown how much of the fund goes to which specific project/ climate issue. The two different ways of accounting result in inaccuracy in the overall reported climate finance funding. In the bigger picture, you may consider that the current “10 billion dollars” could be much less in reality. This is a call for more action by state-leaders, negotiators, businesses, and of course civil society.

How can these climate finance problems be overcome? We do not have a clear and easy solution here. Countries have their incentive to keep their own ways of accounting which place them in a better position—counting loans and grants together and reporting the whole cost instead of the actual sum going to climate issue. “How to move ahead with these problems?” is the key discussion in the COP.  We must put more public attention in order to get these climate finance problems solved.

Morten N. Stubkjær

Danish YMCA and YWCA.




Banner photo source: Facebook/Fiji government

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Alvin Kan
Alvin Kan

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