Day 4 – “Youth and Future Generations Day”
On Thursday 10 November at COP27, the theme of discussions was science and youth and future generations. The inclusion of young people in climate discussions was considered particularly important to the COP organisers, with COP27 President H.E. Sameh Shoukry stating that, “Youth stands to be the most impacted by the decisions we take at the climate process. Thus, they should be considered a natural ally and partner in driving climate action.” The day began with a youth-led forum with representatives from the Conference for the Youth (COY17), which took place earlier this month. COY17 representatives highlighted key demands in relation to Action for Climate Empowerment, Adaptation and Resilience and Accessible Finance.
Finance has been a key topic throughout this COP. As previous blog posts have explained, developed nations are increasingly coming under fire for failing to match the commitments made at COP15 thirteen years ago to provide USD$100 billion to developing countries to address their climate needs. Day 4 was no different, focusing on the challenge of funding green initiatives in less developed countries. Speaking at the COP27 UN climate summit, Achim Steiner, the UN’s global development chief, warned that a combination of inflation, the energy crisis and rising interest rates mean that more than 50 of the world’s poorest countries are in danger of defaulting on their debt. This, he explained, “certainly will not help [climate] action,” as these countries would be unable, “to invest in energy transitions and adaptation [to the impacts of extreme weather].” As a result of the continuing failure of developed countries to meet the longstanding USD$100 billion p/a commitment, Mr Steiner said that poorer countries were in danger of giving up on the UN climate talks. “If COP27 does not deliver a convergent path on the $100 billion, I think many developing countries will leave Sharm el-Sheikh [the venue of COP27] at least thinking about their commitments to the global climate process,” he said.
Elsewhere, Egyptian Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad, in an event on financing adaptation, said that Africa needs up to USD$41.6 trillion by the end of the decade to address the impacts that climate change has made to the continent. While acknowledging that it would be a significant challenge, she stressed how essential it was to bridge, “the gaps between [Africa’s] needs and climate funding,” for its countries to have any hope of combatting climate change.
The consequences of failing to fill these funding gaps were highlighted by other African nations in the context of developing their own fossil fuel resources: the message was that, if developed countries were not going to provide funding, the states would need to generate it for themselves. “Africa wants to send a message that we are going to develop all of our energy resources for the benefit of our people because our issue is energy poverty,” said Namibia’s petroleum commissioner, Maggy Shino, who works within the country’s Ministry of Mines and Energy. “If you are going to tell us to leave our resources in the ground, then you must be prepared to offer sufficient compensation, but I do not think anyone has yet come out to make such an offer.” Major oil discoveries were made by Shell and TotalEnergies off the coast of Namibia earlier this year.
Another country demanding emergency funding was Pakistan, following the devastating floods it has experienced in the past year. “The dystopia has already come to our doorstep,” said Sherry Rehman, the country’s climate minister, as she pushed for UN climate summit negotiators to secure funding to help the country rebuild. The flooding, attributed to climate change, caused over USD$30 billion of economic damage to the country. “There is a recognition [at COP27] that we are facing a new climate normal for the world. But there still is not a recognition that the financial system that has been running the world […] is not going to be able to bail out the millions that are dying and in need.” Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif echoed her comments, calling for rich countries to offer compensation and debt relief to Pakistan to aid in its recovery. Ms Rehman’s comments came as Pakistan takes a prominent role in this year’s COP, serving as one of its co-chairs (alongside Norway) and heading up the G77 umbrella group of developing countries in the global South. In this latter role, Pakistan is actively pushing for a doubling in finance to aid developing countries in adapting to the adverse effects of climate change. The country was also key in ensuring that loss and damage (“L&D“) was inserted onto the official UN summit agenda. For more information on L&D at COP27, see our previous blog posts.
Finally, the World Bank also made a plea for further financing on Thursday. Speaking to journalists, World Bank Managing Director of Operations Axel van Trotsenburg said that, while the bank intended to step up its efforts to finance measures that would combat climate change in poorer countries, and could make a “decisive contribution” in doing so, it could only do so if wealthier countries increased their contributions. Mr van Trotsenburg highlighted Africa in particular as a territory that required more attention: “There is no money going to sub-Saharan Africa. Full stop, I would like to challenge everybody: Do more.” While the World Bank Group provided USD$31.7 billion in climate finance to countries in FY2022, its highest total to date, it was criticised for failing to divest from fossil fuels quickly enough.
There were a number of developments announced over the course of the day:
- The United States Agency for International Development announced that it would be pledging €15 million to the Global Fund for Coral Reefs. Coral reefs are considered an important part of the global marine ecosystem, and are a key element of the Sharm El Sheikh landscape.
- The German development cooperation ministry (BMZ) announced that Germany and Kenya have signed a roadmap for a climate and development partnership. The signing of the agreement was overseen by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Kenyan president William Ruto and will see the African country increase its share of renewables in the power system to 100% by 2030. Germany’s development minister, Svenja Schulze, said that Germany wanted to support Kenya as the country, “can play a pioneering role in the whole of Africa and beyond,” and “encourage others,” as a renewable energy role model. Kenya is already regarded as a leading country in the sphere of renewable power, with 90% of its total production coming from regenerative sources, and the plan is to retain and improve this percentage as the country’s expected economic growth sees a rise in demand for electricity.
“The priority of the German development cooperation is to support the transition of African energy systems with demand-based renewable energies and improved energy efficiency,” a spokesperson for the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development said. Germany provided €5.34 billion in budget funding in its climate finance scheme for developing countries in 2021.
- The UN’s food agency announced an intention to launch a plan within the next year to make the world’s food system more sustainable. Food and Agriculture Organization Deputy Director Zitouni Ould-Dada told reporters at COP that the launch would highlight how the global food industry and farming can align with the world’s goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius. The intention would then be that this would spur investment into institutions and technologies aligned with the plan. Parallels were drawn with a similar announcement by the International Energy Agency, which caused a surge in investment into relevant projects. “It is much needed because for the energy sector there are clear roadmaps which really attracted a lot of investors… but for agriculture we do not have such a map,” Ould-Dada said. Food production accounts for around a third of global greenhouse gas emissions.