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COP26 President Sharma lays out four-point “delivery” plan for 2022

24 January 2022 Keiron Greenhalgh

COP26 President Alok Sharma laid out a four-point plan 24 January that he hopes will turn the promises from the "significant" achievements of November's climate summit into action in the coming year—although the plan was found wanting by some observers, especially on loss and damage funding.

In his first major speech since the Glasgow climate summit ended 12 weeks ago, Sharma said his focus on the path to COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2022 would be delivery as "action must begin now." He added that it "is now time to honour our promises. To build on the trust and consensus generated in Glasgow and deliver, with integrity."

The four-point plan he envisions involves:

  • Ensuring countries reduce emissions as promised, and go further. This includes encouraging countries with a net-zero target to make a plan to get there if they haven't already done so, he said. In addition, urging all governments to honor the Glasgow Climate Pact and revisit and strengthen their 2030 emissions reductions targets as necessary.
  • Progress on adaptation and loss and damage, including working with donor countries towards the commitment to double adaptation finance, and with all parties to make progress towards the Global Goal on Adaptation. Time will also be invested in advancing the Glasgow Dialogue on loss and damage, and the Santiago Network, including its funding, by COP27, he said.
  • Delivering finance to support these efforts. Sharma said that by COP27 the world must be able to show it is on a trajectory to meet the $100-billion climate finance goal set in Paris in 2015. He added that the presidency would also work on even greater post-2025 funding. The UK presidency plans to build on its work with South Africa, to unleash private and public money to fund the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy in other high-emitting countries, supporting their national plans, he added.
  • Push for further action across critical sectors, such as coal, cars, and ending deforestation.

After laying out his blueprint for the coming year, Sharma, who will head the UK's COP presidency until handing the reins over to Egypt at COP27, ended his speech by saying the question for the world now is "whether, in full knowledge of the consequences, we chose to squander or realize [the gains made in Glasgow]. The answer should be obvious. We do have everything ... There is no more time to: 'sit tight and assess'. We must deliver. Together. Now."

Mixed response

That plan to focus on delivery found support in the renewable energy sector. Global Wind Energy Council CEO Ben Backwell said: "GWEC endorses the COP president's word and his 'absolute focus' on delivery, for the remainder of the UK presidency.

"We have seen some important progress since COP26, with wind energy taking a leading role in turning Glasgow's promises into meaningful action across the world. The wind sector is helping to make climate ambitions a reality across the world in countries at different stages of the energy transition," he added.

But the commitments from Sharma and the UK presidency found a tougher audience when it comes to the prospects for climate adaptation financing and hard cash emanating from the Glasgow Dialogue on loss and damage.

Loss and damage as a concept involves vulnerable and poor countries, whose contribution to causing the climate crisis is minute, receiving compensation for the damage climate change is having on the lives, livelihoods, and infrastructure of their citizens.

The loss and damage dialogue emerged late at COP26. The draft text noted the COP parties had decided to establish said dialogue between parties to "discuss the arrangements for the funding of … loss and damage." A total of 14 of the 97 points of the final COP26 draft were dedicated to "Loss and Damage" in section six.

Saleemul Huq, director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development research group, tweeted at Sharma following the latter's speech: "You need to use the Glasgow DIALOGUE on finance @LossandDamage agreed in Glasgow into the Glasgow FACILITY on the finance for loss and damage" by COP27.

Research group The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) also wants more from Sharma and his colleagues when it comes to adaptation cash plus loss and damage compensation.

IIED director Andrew Norton said: "When it comes to coping with the inevitable effects of climate change, it's simply not good enough that we still don't have a clear roadmap for richer countries to provide $100 billion a year to the poorest, and most vulnerable people, who have done the least to cause this catastrophe. The same goes for finance to pay for the losses and damage that these communities are already experiencing."

German academics agree that a better roadmap is required. Examining existing spending from the UN's Green Climate Fund (GCF), Matthias Garschagen and Deepal Doshi of Ludwig-Maxmilians-University Munich, concluded that many of the most vulnerable countries have not been able to access GCF funding, particularly Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Africa. LDCs are 46 low-income countries confronting severe structural impediments to sustainable development.

In research published in the March 2022 issue of Global Environmental Change, the academics said that while the GCF is on track in prioritizing its defined priority countries, the picture looks quite different when considering standard metrics to assess and rank country-level vulnerability.

The GCF and other similarly designed funds need to strengthen mechanisms such as the emerging simplified approval track so that the countries with the lowest institutional capacity and highest vulnerability, and their populations, are not being left behind in the long-run, they concluded.

The GCF was created in 2010 under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change. It has a target of dividing its spending 50-50 on adaptation and mitigation (cutting emissions).

However, some observers say a better roadmap and promises of greater climate adaptation funding to fight the impacts of climate change may not be enough.

Lesley Rankin, who works for the UK-based Institute for Public Policy Research on environmental policy, and was watching Sharma speak, tweeted: "Adaptation is not enough. Political, soc. and econ. systems must become more resilient."

Posted 24 January 2022 by Keiron Greenhalgh, Senior Editor

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