TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Jul17/03)
12 July 2017
Third World Network

Will South get promised help on climate change mitigation?
Published in SUNS #8499 dated 11 July 2017

Hamburg, 10 Jul (D. Ravi Kanth) -- The leaders of the Group of 20 developed and developing countries on Saturday failed to reach consensus at Hamburg for implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change, jeopardising help for mitigation/adaptation actions.

The failure to reach consensus raised fundamental questions whether the developed countries will provide financial and other resources to the developing countries for "mitigation and adaptation actions" because of the exit of the United States, people familiar with the negotiations told SUNS.

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Saturday "deplored" the unilateral position of the US to walk out of the Paris Agreement.

"I think it's very clear that we could not reach consensus, but the differences were not papered over, they were clearly stated," Merkel told reporters at the end of the two-day meeting. "It's absolutely clear it is not a common position."

The United States, which remained isolated at the two-day meeting, declared its unilateral stand to "immediately cease the implementation of its current nationally-determined contribution" and to pursue strategies based on clean fossil-fuels.

The US said it will "work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently and help deploy renewable and other clean energy sources, given the importance of energy access and security in their nationally-determined contributions."

But the remaining 19 leaders of the developed and developing countries said categorically that their position on the Paris Agreement is "irreversible."

They reiterated "the importance of fulfilling the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] commitment by developed countries in providing means of implementation including financial resources to assist developing countries with respect to both mitigation and adaptation actions in line with Paris outcomes."

The 19 countries reaffirmed their "strong commitment to the Paris Agreement, moving swiftly towards its full implementation in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances."

Effectively, if the rest of the world continues along the path of implementing their own targets and commitments, the United States, the world's richest country, will become a "free rider".

Significantly, the 19 countries also unveiled the G20 Hamburg Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth.

It emphasized "the commitment by developed countries to the goal of mobilising jointly USD 100 billion per year by 2020, and their intention to continue this through 2025, in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, from public and private sources, for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries, taking into account their needs and priorities."

But the moot issue is whether the developed countries will be able to stick to their commitment of mobilizing USD 100 billion per year by 2020 after the US created the biggest crack in the financial mechanism for meeting the mitigation and adaptation commitments of the developing and the poorest countries.

The Hamburg Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth is replete with best endeavour commitments based largely on public-private mechanisms of raising finances as well as finance to be provided by multilateral development banks (MDBs).

The plan says, "we take note of the mobilisation of climate finance by MDBs and recognise their efforts to support climate action, including the joint statement by MDBs at COP21. MDBs' ability to provide large-scale financing, their potential to leverage private climate finance, and their presence around the globe place them in a good position to contribute to the transition to an increased adaptive capacity and a low greenhouse gas emission and climate-resilient development, including the achievement of related SDGs."

"Enhanced MDB climate actions will facilitate an effective response to client countries' demands, including by cooperating with national and regional institutions and fostering the mainstreaming of climate dimensions into development," the plan suggested.

Asked to clarify whether there will be a serious problem for financing the mitigation and adaptation commitments, India's sherpa Arvind Panagariya told SUNS that the issue is addressed in the declaration as well as the Hamburg Action Plan.

But an Oxfam economist who was present at the meeting acknowledged the problem of financing the mitigation and adaptation commitments since the US will not make any contributions.

"The US pullout of Paris and Trump's decision to not honour the US pledge towards the Green Climate Fund leaves a highly problematic gap in urgently needed funds to assist the world's poorest and most vulnerable in adapting to a changing climate. However, Trump's moves do not alter the obligation the US and other rich countries have to provide such support," Sasanka Thilakasiri, Oxfam's senior Policy Advisor, told SUNS.

"While for now the Green Climate Fund still has resources to spend, it will soon have to be refilled," he said, emphasizing that "there will be a role for all developed countries to find new sources of finance which could include beyond government budgets, sub-national actors, MDBs and other multilateral platforms".

On climate finance as well as other issues concerning the commitments made by the developed countries in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Hamburg declaration failed to provide explicit commitments that will sustain the implementation of mitigation and adaption programs in the poor and developing countries. +