‘A nd the clock is ticking. We are in the fight of our lives. And we are losing. Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing. Global temperatures keep rising. And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible. We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.’ – An excerpt from United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres’s speech at the high-level opening of COP27.
As the pandemic is still going on – although much lower in strength than its peak back in early 2020 – numerous voices globally recognized the need during this time for a ‘new normal’ policy away from Neoliberalism, and towards a ‘green new deal’.
In an interview to Bloomberg early last year, noted economist Mariana Mazzucato highlighted the needed recovery from the pandemic to not be just about bailouts, but about bringing in ‘purpose-driven’, mission-oriented policy that allowed meeting the immense challenge at hand.
She pointed out in this regard: ‘Recovery should not just be a bailout but it really needs to do what [US President] Biden talks about, which is “Building Back Better”, but it doesn’t happen if you don’t nest it within the contracts, and you know that’s why purpose-driven-approach needs to be not just about what’s to be done, but how, and how actually to set up really more symbiotic public-private partnerships.’
Yet the urgency that is needed to move towards this ‘new normal’ is still missing from both the developed and developing countries, on one hand, and multilateral institutions on the other.
Moreover, the worrisome thing is that this has happened when climate change crisis has unfolded drastically over the recent years, and fragility of supply chain crisis in the wake of natural disasters and geopolitical tension – in the shape of war in Ukraine, for instance – should have had a far more compelling impact on policy to make the needed revisit.
It is in this context of needed urgent global action that COP27 meetings that are currently under way in Egypt need to take as an immensely important opportunity for countries, companies, and multilateral institutions to come together and plan appropriately towards, for instance, reversing the climate change crisis.
Here, in addition to COP27 participant working towards galvanizing policy to put in place a non-neoliberal, and green institutional arrangement to oversee a global move towards the needed ‘new normal’, the other important aspect is the need for arranging the required finances.
Having said that, although one should always remain optimistic, and given climate change has unfolded quite significantly in recent years, yet if past performance of the COP meetings is any indication, there also remains a lot of pessimism.
A recent Foreign Policy (FP) published article ‘The obvious climate strategy nobody will talk about’ pointed out with regard to COP27 meetings as follows: ‘World leaders will outdo one another with dire warnings of catastrophe, agree that the “climate crisis” demands greater ambition to cut emissions, and reiterate their commitment to nonbinding targets the world is unlikely to meet.
Then, if the past is any guide, the climate conference will founder over the same intractable conflicts as always. Poor countries will demand that rich countries cut emissions first and fastest—and support programs to help the global south adapt to a warming climate.
Rich countries will demand that poor countries leapfrog fossil fuels and power their development with wind and solar energy. Poor countries will agree, in principle, to do so if rich countries foot the bill and compensate the nations of the global south for damage from climate change they are not responsible for.
Rich countries will commit, in principle, to do so but will fail to deliver the promised support. This has been the basic template for global climate negotiations since they began in earnest in the mid-1990s.’
While developed countries have continued to remain far below their COP21 commitment, which they made in Paris in 2015, with regard to providing $100 billion annually in climate finance to developing countries by 2020, a recent report ‘Finance for climate action: scaling up investment for climate and development’ by the Independent High-Level Expert Group on Climate Finance where, according to the Report, ‘The COP26 and COP27 Presidencies, together with the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, launched a new Independent High-Level Expert Group on Climate Finance last July’. The group remained critical of lagging policy action, and lack of climate-related funding; moreover, it identified climate-related financing needs, among other observations, and suggestions.
The Report pointed out in this regard: ‘Our world is in peril: the climate crisis is accelerating. Current action is too weak and too slow; to delay is dangerous. This is also a moment of great opportunity. One path leads to attractive growth and development, the other to destruction, catastrophe and loss of lives and livelihoods on a massive scale, especially for the vulnerable. … climate change is occurring at a faster pace than previously anticipated, the impacts and damage are greater than foreseen, and the time for remedial action is rapidly narrowing.
Emissions are still rising and tipping points getting closer. What happens in this decade is decisive for the world. … The failure to deliver the climate finance commitment of $100 billion per year by 2020 made by developed countries at successive COPs has eroded trust.
According to the latest assessment of delivery plans, the $100 billion commitment will be met only in 2023, three years past the target date… The world needs a breakthrough and a new roadmap on climate finance that can mobilise the $1 trillion per year in external finance that will be needed by 2030 for emerging markets and developing countries (EMDCs) other than China. …There is a significant role for public policy and government action to foster investment, and complementary roles for the private sector, MDBs [multilateral development banks], international financial institutions (IFIs), and concessional finance of various forms.’
COP27 meetings that are under way need to address issues related to institutional arrangements, and financing. One important breakthrough that is needed at the meetings is with regard to the ‘Loss and Damage’ fund, about which a recent Reuters published article ‘Explainer: COP27: what is ‘Loss and Damage’ compensation, and who should pay?’ indicated the following: ‘The COP27 summit follows a year of such disasters, from floods that killed more than 1,700 people in Pakistan to drought withering crops in China, Africa and the U.S. West. That has intensified developing country demands for a special “Loss and Damage” fund. But with rich countries resisting such calls, the issue has been stalled for years.’
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022
The writer holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Barcelona. He previously worked at the International Monetary Fund. He tweets @omerjaved7