This year’s midterm climate talks in Bonn, Germany were heartbreaking. Depending on what emerged from the talks, the world might as well say goodbye to our dream of net zero emissions. The developing world needs money to put our countries on the path to a zero-emissions future, as agreed by the world. The Bonn Conference on climate change, which took place from June 6 to 16, was to flesh out and federate the major areas of collaboration between nations, particularly around the Green Climate Fund. But he failed to deliver.
The poor countries of the world badly need green funds. But, it seems that the longer they wait for the money, the more coffins are buried. The common man in the street, who may not even understand the meaning of net zero emissions, still has an idea of the impacts of climate change – extreme weather events, storms, floods and droughts. Indeed, they are more affected by the effects of climate change than rich countries, but they have less financial capacity to meet these demands.
In Bonn, negotiators from poor countries argued that the climate change they face was caused by the carbon emitted by richer countries as they developed their economies. They said that Europe and the United States of America now have the responsibility to compensate them for this. But the United States and Europe disagreed. Perhaps they feared that if they paid for historic carbon emissions, it could put their country on the hook for billions of dollars for decades or even centuries to come.
The talks that wrapped up in Bonn last week are a key part of the annual climate agenda, setting the stage for the United Nations-sponsored Conference of the Parties, or COP, in November. For two weeks, negotiators worked to translate into action the major commitments made at the twenty-sixth COP in Glasgow last year, in preparation for COP27 later this year.
Alas, it’s like deja vu. During last year’s pre-COP negotiations, there was also no agreement. A target for rich countries to provide poor nations with $100 billion in aid each year to fight global warming has not been met, effectively slowing climate talks in Glasgow last November. Senior British, Canadian and German officials, hoping to break the deadlock in negotiations, later announced that current data showed the target would not be met until 2023, three years later than expected.
The darkness deepens; Failure to deliver on the commitment first made in 2009 and reaffirmed at the Paris climate talks in 2015 has been a source of deep frustration for developing countries. Yet, experts still maintained their optimism and confidence that $100 billion would be reached in 2023 and, importantly, forecast that $100 billion would be exceeded in subsequent years, with up to $117 billion mobilized in 2025. To be precise, they projected that over the period 2021-2025, $500 million would likely be mobilized in public and private financing.
Subsequently, COP26 in Glasgow delivered a half-full cup. The decision package includes a series of agreed elements, including enhanced efforts to build resilience to climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide the necessary financing for both. Nations reaffirmed their duty to fulfill the commitment to provide $100 billion a year from developed countries to developing countries. And they collectively agreed to work to close the gap between existing reduction plans and what is needed to reduce emissions, so that the rise in the global average temperature can be limited to 1.5 degrees. Remarkably, for the first time, nations were called upon to phase out coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.
Based on the above, there was still a window of optimism heading into 2022. However, those hopes now seem dashed as the Bonn conference turned into a clear disappointment. After two weeks of talks, negotiations representing dozens of developing countries have left Germany empty-handed as wealthy countries stalled their attempts to win compensation for damage caused by climate change.
The debate around “loss and damage” has been ongoing since the approval of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992. While rich countries have recognized that global warming is causing catastrophes that cannot be adapt, they never agreed that it warranted financial compensation. However, the final resolution to create the $100 billion green climate fund for the developing world moved the world forward. This is why implementation is essential. Meanwhile, the issue is still expected to take center stage at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, later this year.
Now, in order to put that into perspective, we could look at Nigeria’s latest promise to the world. A few days ago, the President, General Muhammadu Buhari (Retired) renewed Nigeria’s commitment to a safer and healthier global climate with the inclusion of the elimination of kerosene lighting from by 2030, increasing the use of buses for public transport and reducing the burning of crop residues. . He presented these plans as they appear in our country’s Nationally Determined Contribution update, while during a virtual meeting hosted by President Joe Biden of the United States on the Major Economies Forum on energy and climate change (NDCs are a set of pledged climate action plans from individual UNFCCC signatory nations).
Herein lies the paradox: US negotiators have refused to commit to their commitment to the Green Climate Fund, while the US President is holding a green meeting expecting developing countries to meet their own commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
To be realistic, how can the large and poor population of Nigeria switch to green technologies without financial and technical support? In a country where the cost of energy is skyrocketing on a daily basis, how could one be able to consider the environment first while looking for ways to survive biting hardships? Could we really choose not to burn the trees in our garden as fuel for environmental reasons, when there is no gas or kerosene for cooking?
The truth is that citizens of the developing world need money to adapt to the impacts of climate change. They have already been living with loss and damage for decades now. They have families who have suffered so much through no fault of their own. They lost their homes, their crops, their lives, and no one is paying for those losses. They lack resources. They also need funds to switch to green solutions that will reduce their carbon emissions. Certainly, the rich countries understand this perfectly; yet they are dragging their feet. The politics of loss and damage is complicated, and there is now so much international politics surrounding it.
Harjeet Singh of Climate Action Network International said: “The European Union has systematically blocked discussions on financing loss and damage in Bonn. The past two weeks have exposed his hypocritical stance, with major countries like Germany sourcing new fossil fuels overseas while refusing to support developing countries facing the devastation caused by climate-induced super storms. and rising seas.
Undoubtedly, the situation today is aggravated by the war in Ukraine. Rich countries are also in a dilemma; they face emerging existential concerns. They also fear potential military alliances even from some members of the developing world like China and India. Indeed, with the way things are going, they may soon begin to factor climate change and the environment less into their sustainability plans for their struggling citizens. This is why closing the gap between rich and poor on the issue of climate change requires additional ambition and sincerity from world leaders.