Climate finance pledge sparks tension in Global North

Protests demand for finance pledges to be met by global North. [Mactilda Mbenywe, Standard]

The debate over climate financing has taken a political turn at the UN climate summit in Dubai with African countries voicing their concerns about unfulfilled promises from the Global North.

The negotiations now reveal a complex web of interests, conflicting narratives, and a growing urgency to address the global climate crisis.

One of the big tests facing this year's summit is whether it will fare any better than earlier climate talks at shoring up anything close to the money that is required.

Rich nations have been accused of ‘playing hardball’ with climate victims, as talks continue and many pledges are in place.

This year’s COP28 witnessed USD83 billion in financial commitments within the first five days of the conference.

On the first day of the summit, the presidency agreed to operationalise and capitalise funding for loss and damage. The funding, totalling USD726 million already pledged, is meant to support those on the front lines of the climate crisis.

Vulnerable and poor countries, which did little to cause the climate crisis, want to hold the biggest fossil fuel-polluting countries liable for the pain and suffering they are experiencing from climate breakdown.

But there is a huge caveat to the agreed deal, which already contained various compromises. The USD700 million so far pledged by wealthy nations most responsible for the climate emergency covers less than 0.2 per cent of what is needed every year.

Estimates for the annual cost of the damage have varied from USD100-USD580 billion.

"The funds should be new and additional to existing commitments, and come as grants, not loans," said Fadhel Kaboub, Associate Professor of Economics from Tunisia. "But in most cases, the nature and timing of the pledged money remains unclear as few countries have released further details."

The first week saw protesters calling for additional financing for the newly established loss and damage fund, as well as an end to subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.

Kenyan climate activist Eric Njuguna said certain countries had not paid enough into the fund.

“Global North countries haven't paid enough into the loss and damage fund," he said.

As of yesterday, financial contributions had poured in, with USD3.5 billion in new funds earmarked to replenish the Green Climate Fund.

Additionally, substantial amounts of USD133.6 million have been allocated towards the Adaptation Fund, USD129.3 million to the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDC), and USD31 million to the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF).

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) introduced ALTÉRRA, a USD30 billion catalytic fund designed to propel positive climate action.

The fund aims to mobilise an additional USD250 billion on a global scale. Furthermore, the UAE pledged USD200 million through Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to assist vulnerable countries and allocated USD150 million to fund water security solutions.

The World Bank announced a significant annual increase of USD9 billion for 2024 and 2025 to finance climate-related projects.

A recent United Nations report concluded that rich countries had reduced their aid for climate adaptation efforts between 2020 and 2021, the most recent year for which comprehensive data is available.