Climate Finance And in Its Absence

Finance for climate action in developing countries, a key issue in the climate negotiation, remained unresolved at Glasgow. Rich, industrialised countries failed to honour their 12-year-old commitment provide $100 billion (₹7.43 lakh crore) in climate finance by 2020. This disrupts trust as well as climate action by poor countries. A resolution to the finance question is critical for moving the needle on climate action.

The imbalance, in the Glasgow Climate Pact text, between the treatment of finance and of mitigation of emissions, is not acceptable. Another unresolved issue in finance is the definition and quality of climate finance. What constitutes climate finance, what are the respective roles of private investment, grants and loans? Giving poor nations climate finance as loans is problematic, especially in the post-pandemic situation, as it increases their debt burden. Ahead of COP26, a report ‘delivery plan’ commissioned by the UK found that developed countries would not reach the $100 billion target till 2023. The final text notes the failure to meet $100 billion commitment with ‘deep regret’ and ‘urges’ them to meet the target ‘urgently and through to 2025’. But the failure to set a timeline to meet the target, or to pay for the shortfall beginning in 2020, is problematic. The manner in which developed countries have conducted themselves on the $100 billion promised by them in 2009, gives little hope for the post-2025 finance goal. Developing countries need to work collectively to ensure that the post-2025 goal is not a token and is backed by a stringent delivery plan, monitored as rigorously as mitigation.

Countries such as India must recognise that, as in the past, they must undertake climate action from their domestic resources and the investments they can attract. India must be seen as leading the fight for the poorer and more vulnerable nations and not as a country that seeks to corner a share of the meagre climate finance pie at the expense of less-capable nations. Deficient climate finance, thus, offers a leadership opportunity.


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