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Developing nations say swifter climate action depends on cash to pay for it

by Megan Rowling | @meganrowling | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 6 December 2018 17:30 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Workers clean photovoltaic panels inside a solar power plant in Gujarat, India, July 2, 2015. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files

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Without clear rules and enough money on the table, "we are going to postpone solutions" to climate change, Peru ex-minister says

By Megan Rowling

KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Developing countries with fewer resources to cut carbon emissions and adapt to climate change cannot step up their efforts to combat global warming unless they get more support in the form of funding and technology, they said on Thursday.

India will deliver on what it has promised to do under the 2015 Paris Agreement by boosting renewable energy production, expanding forests, and generating fewer emissions in relation to its gross domestic product, its chief negotiator AK Mehta said.

"We are very certain that we will not renege on our commitment - we will do what is required," he told journalists on the sidelines of U.N. climate talks in Poland.

The U.S.-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis said this month that India is on track to achieve two of its three targets well ahead of a 2030 deadline.

But it faces challenges in doing so, Mehta emphasised.

If the South Asian nation wanted to step up its efforts on solar power in a big way, for example, it would need assistance with energy storage technology, he noted.

India met a 2020 goal of installing 20 gigawatts of solar power four years early, and is now aiming for 100 gigawatts by 2022, making it one of the world's most ambitious adopters.

But as nations around the world try to move toward a common goal of reducing emissions, "everybody is not similarly placed" in their ability to make those cuts, Mehta said.

More than 190 countries are meeting in the coal-mining town of Katowice through Dec. 14 to hammer out rules that will enable the Paris accord to be put into practice from 2020, and spur countries to strengthen their current climate action plans.

Current pledges to cut emissions would lead to global warming of about 3 degrees Celsius this century, scientists say.

Under the Paris deal, governments have pledged to hold temperature rise to "well below" 2 degrees C above pre-industrial times, and ideally to 1.5 degrees C.

The world has already warmed about 1 degree C, scientists say.

On Wednesday, a scientific report said global carbon dioxide emissions are set to rise nearly 3 percent this year due to continued fossil fuel use, dashing hopes an increase in 2017 was temporary after two years of slowdown.

That, and other recent U.N. reports, have underlined the urgency of ramping up efforts to reduce emissions - and, under the Paris Agreement, countries are expected to increase the ambition of their emissions-cutting plans by 2020.

At stake in Katowice is how they do that. The guidelines decided at the talks will be crucial to sharing the burden of the work, with poorer countries saying they need more financial help to do their part.

For the least developed nations, funding is a key piece in the puzzle that will enable them to deliver on their pledges, said Gebru Jember Endalew, who chairs the group of 47 states.

"Increasing your ambition on your (climate action) plan alone will not be the right answer. There needs to be ambition in terms of increasing financial support," the Ethiopian said.

The U.N. climate talks have long tangled over how rich countries will meet a promise to raise $100 billion a year from 2020 to help developing countries go green and cope with wild weather.

The latest figures show climate finance is rising but there is no agreement on what should be counted towards that goal.


report issued by UN Environment on Thursday said there is a considerable gap between countries' current preparedness for climate change and the actual measures needed to get communities ready for a future of increasing climate risks.

While low- and middle-income countries have shown steady progress, catching up with wealthier nations in their ability to adapt "will take many decades" unless help increases, it said.

Funding flows for adaptation are "significantly lower" than the needs outlined in national action plans, it noted.

In Katowice, some rich countries have resisted pressure to project how much they will contribute in the future, saying they cannot forecast that far ahead due to short budget cycles.

But Endalew said projected amounts would only be indicative and should not cause political problems back in capitals.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF's global climate lead, said meeting the $100 billion annual goal from 2020-2025 was an important political signal.

But genuinely reworking energy systems and making the world safer would take much more money, he suggested.

"After 2025, we should be finding ways to shift the trillions (of dollars)" that are "the only way to really address climate change", he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Pulgar-Vidal, who as a former Peruvian environment minister presided over the Lima talks in 2014, said the only way to ensure national climate action plans are boosted enough to meet the Paris goals was to agree a "strong rulebook" in Katowice.

"If we fail on that, we can't keep the 1.5C promise, and we are going to postpone solutions," he warned.

Both Mehta and Endalew said they were optimistic the talks could achieve a satisfactory rulebook, even if some finer details remained to be settled later.

Mehta said India's existing climate plan was already "very ambitious", and it was too early to say whether it could be improved on by 2020.

But "we will be willing to engage if the rules of the game are clear, and if it is an inclusive process", he said.

Achim Steiner, head of the United Nations Development Programme, said India and China should do more because renewables and energy efficiency offer significant economic opportunities.

But there was little point in governments lecturing one another on levels of ambition, he noted.

"Let's invest in strengthening the public policy that allows a country to begin to accelerate efforts," he said in a phone interview from New York.

(Reporting by Megan Rowling @meganrowling; editing by Laurie Goering. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking and property rights. Visit http://news.trust.org/climate)

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