Poor countries shouldn’t be forced into debt to tackle the climate crisis | The Secret Negotiator


OOne of the biggest issues at Cop26 is climate finance, the finance that is supposed to be provided by the rich world to developing countries to help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to it. impact of the climate crisis.

Back at the Copenhagen Cop in 2009, we were promised at least $ 100 billion (£ 74 billion) per year in climate finance by 2020 and each year thereafter until at least 2025. But that goal was missed. Recently we saw an OECD report that found that in 2019 only around $ 80 billion was provided.

These kinds of sums may seem small compared to what big countries are spending on Covid, but they would make a huge difference to us on the ground. The extreme weather conditions seen around the world over the past year follow years of hurricanes, tropical storms, floods, droughts and all manner of damage caused by global warming, as has clearly indicated the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Keep in mind that this promised climate finance is on top of what developing countries are spending on climate themselves. An increasing proportion of national budgets are used to deal with the effects of the climate crisis, such as dealing with natural disasters or repairing damage.

We understand that developed countries are busy putting their own economies in order after Covid, and that’s why we didn’t have much progress on climate finance before this COP. But $ 100 billion is a drop in the ocean, and that number is not the only story here: the money is not distributed evenly.

Larger developing countries take most of the available funds. They can easily attract finance and have infrastructure and renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar farms, that require investment and generate profits, which investors appreciate.

But for us, who are nano-emitters on a global scale, reducing emissions is not a priority. Adaptation is.

Worse yet, much of the money comes in the form of loans, not grants – about two-thirds of climate finance is loans. This creates a climate debt trap. We are already in a debt trap because of Covid, and it is getting worse. How do you expect us to take more loans, get even deeper into debt, for something we didn’t cause in the first place?

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for 50% of climate finance to go to adaptation, which would benefit us and ensure that more money is spent with the least developed countries, not just the least developed countries. middle-income countries.

Here’s another idea: developed countries could agree to debt-for-adaptation swaps. So instead of developed countries insisting that we repay our current hard currency loans, which is difficult for us, these repayments could be converted into local currency and spent locally for adaptation. This would stimulate our economy, save us from having to raise hard currencies to repay loans, and allow us to better withstand extreme weather conditions. This idea was put forward by Germany and we hope that other countries will take it up.

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