Activist countries

COP27 is a major opportunity for countries to address climate challenges

COP26 held in Glasgow, Scotland last year was a tense affair. Some of the critical themes were loss and damage from climate change, access to climate finance and widespread climate action.

Developing countries and vulnerable communities were eager to see real action from major economies and polluters. We cannot continue to have the same conversations without employing new and creative solutions to the challenges we face. We need to change the way we speak and the people we influence. We must find new and increasingly accelerated paths towards our goals.

Initial conversations about climate finance promised to developing countries to build resilience and adapt to climate change were charged, with $20 billion in funding failing to materialise.

At a pre-COP event, the head of the United Nations Development Programme, Achim Steiner, told the BBC: “Isn’t it ridiculous that in the midst of an intervention economy of trillion dollar emergency, which we are seeing right now, is haggling us for a $20 billion price tag to essentially unlock hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions of dollars, of investment in developing countries. press and we can’t find a way to fund it. It’s just not acceptable.

Steiner’s position was echoed by Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley in her opening speech for the summit, during which she stressed that communities living on the front lines of climate change are watching and remembering the decisions made at COP26. .

The summit itself received mixed reviews. Negotiators struggled to find common ground and several multilateral agreements were signed, including South Africa’s “Just Energy Transition Partnership” with the United States, Britain, France, Germany and the EU. The program established an $8.5 billion financing deal that would rapidly roll back coal-fired power plants in South Africa and help them meet their carbon reduction targets.

This partnership, along with the acknowledgment of the effects of fossil fuels on the environment in the final declaration, were hailed as the two major highlights of the event.

Climate finance, loss and damage and more direct climate action have not progressed as many had hoped, leaving many activists angry at the lack of support available to vulnerable communities. Delegates and negotiators called for patience and pointed to COP27 as the next big summit where a solution to these long-standing issues could be found. Meanwhile, developing countries continue to face severe weather and environmental challenges. This year there is a chance to approach them in Egypt.

International Responsibility for Vulnerable Communities

Where funding and support gaps have been identified, many communities are turning to innovative local solutions to build a resilient and sustainable future. One example is the Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator, which helps island nations respond to the climate crisis. There are also a number of projects across the continent where communities are harvesting rainwater or providing innovative energy solutions, for example.

The development of local technologies and policies is essential to adapt to climate impacts, but financing is essential to develop solutions. Public sector investments, given vulnerability and the myriad of competing priorities, compound the existing challenges and inequity of climate change in developing countries where the cost of adaptation is difficult to juggle with other infrastructure and societal needs.

Private funding can fill the commercial funding gap, but much more philanthropic funding and bilateral grants are needed from the big nations that are responsible for the carbon in our atmosphere and made rich from it. We need to unleash all the solutions from our toolkits, including parametric insurance, carbon credits, impact investing and private sector innovation.

In addition to stronger climate action to maintain a maximum warming of 1.5°C by 2100, decisions need to be made on loss and damage and on concessional finance and subsidies. The responsibility of major nations must also be addressed. As climate activist Vanessa Nakate explains, “[UK COP26 President] Alok Sharma is demanding that low-income countries, which have done relatively little to create the climate crisis, raise their levels of ambition on climate action. However, [the UK] is expanding a coal mine in Wales and greenlighting a new oil and gas field in the North Sea – and considering six other fossil fuel developments.

Nakate cites the EU’s recent designation of natural gas as a sustainable energy source, as well as foreign-owned fossil fuel projects across Africa, as examples of counterproductive climate action.

“These infrastructure projects will, at some point, become stranded assets. The East African Crude Oil Pipeline will only land Africans with more debt and more debt. African countries are already struggling to pay rich countries at crippling interest rates.

This adds weight to Steiner’s question ahead of COP26 – how can world powers continue to drag their feet on meeting their climate policy goals when finance is readily available and policy changes rapidly, if it benefits the interests acquired ?

COP27 must provide answers

This year’s climate summit, to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh in November, offers policymakers, non-state actors and activists from vulnerable communities the chance to tackle problems from a different angle. Last year’s summit in Glasgow was marred by accessibility issues due to Covid travel restrictions and the usual entry barriers that limit or discourage the involvement of smaller nations. Egypt, no stranger to climate pressures itself, has long been a gateway between Africa, the Middle East and Europe, uniquely positioning it to host the summit.

Accessibility might continue to be an issue for some delegations, but holding a global climate summit on a continent with strong local and indigenous activists calling for climate action will hopefully mean greater representation vulnerable communities and more unique perspectives of Indigenous communities. COP27 must provide creative solutions to fundamental problems – and it must be a platform for those of us on the front lines of climate change. Together, our voices are stronger.

Racquel Moses is the Global Ambassador for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Executive Director of Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Mail & Guardian.