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International

5 Years after Paris, Climate Change Crusade Remains Short Changed

Heads of delegations pose for a group portrait at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21), which led to the signing of the Paris Agreement. Le Bourget, France, November 30, 2015.

Five years after the Paris Agreement, the world’s richest nations are yet to make good on their promise of funding the emerging economies’ efforts to fight climate change and mitigate its socioeconomic impact.

Developed countries who made a commitment to deliver USD 100 billion annually to help developing countries fight climate change eleven years ago have fallen short of the target. Experts say that the inability of these countries to cough up the funding to the poor regions will disproportionately affect South Asia, which unfortunately is a region already prone to natural disasters and is deeply dependent on carbon-intensive energy, which is why it needs significant support to tackle both these vulnerabilities in the union.

On 12 December 2020, the Climate Ambition Summit – a virtual conference co-hosted by France and the UK in partnership with Chile, Italy and the United Nations (UN) –marked the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement. The event was seen to provide an opportunity to take stock of the mitigation and adapta- tion promises which were made 5 years ago in 2015, announce further commitments to reduce carbon emissions and count the money spent or pledged since the 2009 UN Climate Talks in Copenhagen.

In line with terms of the Paris Agreement, countries like China, Britain, South Korea, Japan, and others have moved forward with their plans for aggressive decarbonisation of their economies despite the crisis caused by the global COVID-19 outbreak, which pushed key climate talks to next year.

However, observers warn that if climate finance is neglected for long, it may hinder action in emerging states.

Kashmala Kakakhel, the climate expert from Pakistan noted that 2020 was supposed to be the year which would have been marked as a milestone for climate finance. She further said, “When the US$100 billion goal was set in 2009, we just set this 2020 deadline. Countries discussed public and private finance, but nobody really went into the details of it”.

When the Copenhagen Conference took place, the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, had said that the rich countries would start paying the poor countries to help them tackle the climate change problem, ramping up the financial support to 100 billion USD a year by 2020, and thus, it became one of the UN Climate Agreements.

Harjeet Singh, a global climate change expert says that South Asia is a disaster hotspot and the lack of vigorous progress on climate finance is a big worry. Major South Asian economies including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are all prone to natural disasters and depend highly on fossil fuels like natural gas and coal. India has the world’s fourth largest share of carbon emissions, and even though it is working towards adapting renewable energy, it is strug- gling to phase out coal and decarbonise cement, steelmaking and other sectors.

Climate negotiations will resume next year in Glasgow, where members of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) will deliberate transitioning the planet to a low carbon economy.

If the conference is unable to bring climate finance under the spotlight, it will be a reflection of the inability of the richest and the most polluting nations of the world to realize their responsibility towards the only planet in the cosmos known to be hospitable to human habitation.

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