International

Explained: What Is Climate Finance That India Sought At COP27 To Tackle Climate Change

With climate finance still scarce, Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said, 'climate adaptation in the form of early warning dissemination is key to safeguarding lives and livelihoods from cascading natural hazards causing substantial losses around the world'.

COP27 held in Egypt.
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India sought clarity on climate finance at the 27th edition of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). With climate finance still scarce, Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said, “climate adaptation in the form of early warning dissemination is key to safeguarding lives and livelihoods from cascading natural hazards causing substantial losses around the world”. Yadav was speaking at the COP27 event on November 7 in Egypt. 

Speaking at the U.N. Secretary-General High-Level Round Table to launch the "Early Warnings for All Executive Action Plan", Yadav stressed that the global pace of climate mitigation is not enough to contain the rate of climate change.

Ahead of the event, India issued a statement stating, “As it is a saying that ‘what gets measured gets done’, more clarity is needed on the definition of climate finance for the developing countries to be able to accurately assess the extent of finance flows for climate action.”

What is climate finance?

According to the official website of UNFCC, climate finance refers to local, national or transnational financing—drawn from public, private and alternative sources of financing—that seeks to support mitigation and adaptation actions that will address climate change.

The website further reads that climate finance is needed for mitigation because large-scale investments are required to significantly reduce emissions. Climate finance is equally important for adaptation, as significant financial resources are needed to adapt to the adverse effects and reduce the impacts of a changing climate.

Why is climate finance important?

The Standing Committee of Finance (SCF) was set up during COP16 in 2010 so that the Parties can assist the COP in exercising its functions in relation to the financial mechanism of the Convention.

The SCF has four key functions:

1. To assist the COP in developing coherent strategies and assisting in the delivery of financial assistance. 

2. To mobilise finance to support COPs in achieving the goals of climate finance. 

3. Assisting the COP in the rationalization of the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC.

4. Supporting the COP in the measurement, reporting and verification of support provided to developing country Parties.

Where do Parties stand in terms of climate finance?

Indian Express reported that in COP15 in 2009, developing countries had committed to jointly pledge USD 100 billion per year by 2020 to help developing countries fight climate change. However, it’s still a long way. 

In an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press, Bhupender Yadav said addressing the shortcomings on finance was paramount to making the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, a success.

“I believe the biggest responsibility ... lies with the developed countries,” Yadav said. “Because if there is any gap that remains it is in the action for climate finance.”

Currently, rich nations provide an estimated $80 billion annually, which poorer nations say isn’t enough to develop clean energy systems and to adapt to worsening climate shocks. India alone said it needs $2.5 trillion, in a 2019 finance ministry document.

“Climate finance isn’t charity,” Yadav told AP on the sidelines of the conference. “This is an obligation, responsibility, duty and a vow.”

He said helping the developing world cope with climate change is a call of conscience that “should be in the heart of every person. But especially in those who have a greater historical responsibility than others.”

According to the fourth Biennial Assessment of the Standing Committee on Finance of the UNFCCC, the total public financial support reported by developed countries in October 2020 amounted to USD 45.4 billion in 2017 and USD 51.8 billion in 2018.

Developing countries, including India, will also push rich countries to agree to a new global climate finance target – also known as the new collective quantified goal on climate finance (NCQG) — which they say should be in trillions as the costs of addressing and adapting to climate change have grown.

“Any consensus on an enhanced scale of financial mobilisation could be a welcome takeaway from COP27,” said RR Rashmi, Distinguished Fellow, TERI, and former climate negotiator under UNFCCC.

(with inputs from AP)

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