Climate talks in Lima: money talks


As the fifth day of the Lima climate talks get underway the role of climate finance is again emerging as a crucial issue. Recent announcement by developing countries about financial contributions to the initial capitalisation Green Climate Fund – including the UK’s commitment to provide £720 million – has gone a long way in showing willing, but the lack of space for discussion on finance at the COP in Lima is putting that at risk.

The discussion on ‘INDCs’ or intended nationally determined contributions – each country’s individual plan for tackling climate change – are taking centre stage in Lima. There is much work to be done amongst parties to establish what exactly should be contained in the INDCs and how those elements included could be comparable so a clear idea of ambitious could be established ahead of Paris. 

The focus on the INDCs is causing concern in some quarters, particularly its mitigationheavy focus.  It was at the climate talks in Warsaw in 2013 where parties agreed on putting forward INDCs, with the principle focus being on mitigation efforts. The view of developing countries, including those that make up the EU, is that INDCs are supposed to be focused on mitigation only – how each country can reduce its carbon emissions. But this has led some to feel that the emphasis on mitigation is at the cost of other vital issues, including adaptation and finance. With no clear process outlined to agree the finance and adaptation elements of the agreement, the INDC discussion is – for some countries – becoming a proxy negotiation on finance.

What developing countries need to see from the climate talks in Lima – which are a crucial step on the way to agreeing a new binding deal to cut carbon emissions in Paris in a year’s time – is reassurance that there is space made for finance and adaptation in the discussions. There needs to be a clear message that finance and adaptation has parity with mitigation, and that they will be included in the Paris agreement. Without this being guaranteed the rush to include everything possible into the INDC text is perhaps understandable, as it least guarantees its presence in the final agreement. Obvious questions remain around how developed countries will scale up that finance to reached the promised $100 billion in climate finance annually by 2020, and how the Green Climate Fund (GCF) will continue to receive fund to enable it to being fully operation.

The key word here is ‘predictable’; individual one-off announcements by countries on climate finance play their part, but these must form part of a wider, ongoing process that gives developing countries reassurance that there will be a predictable stream of guaranteed finance to support them. The importance of trust cannot be overstated as negotiators and governments feel their way towards next year’s meeting in Paris, where they must work together to agree a new fair and binding global deal on emissions reductions – not least given the expectation of people around the world that leaders will act on climate change.  What these talks are making clearer than ever is that we need a three-pronged attack to tackle the impacts of climate change and reach a new deal next year in Paris, with adaptation, mitigation and finance all crucial. How that triangle of essential components fits together is, as yet, still up for grabs.

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