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Deadlock in UN talks on climate finance

Madrid, Dec 13 : As the two-week long hectic UN climate change talks head to close with outcomes inadequate to address the climate emergency, negotiators and envoys on Friday are apprehensive of the increasingly contentious topics like climate finance -- a support to developing countries, including India.

Experts told IANS that the issue of climate finance is addressed in a number of the negotiations in relation to long-term finance, the Green Climate Fund, reporting on climate finance, loss and damage finance and support for the implementation of the Gender Action Plan, but deadlock continues.

"Climate finance continues to be a difficult topic in these talks. Parties should remember that climate action will not be possible unless climate finance is made available and is accessible. We cannot accept another agreement where support to developing countries remains merely a wishful possibility," Mattias SAderberg, head of ACT Alliance's delegation to the climate talks, said.

Also, envoys from almost 200 nations remained divided on one of the most crucial issues on finalising the guidelines for international carbon markets that is Article 6 of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Last year at COP24 in Poland, the bulk of the implementation guidelines of the 2015 Paris Agreement were agreed on, with the exception of Article 6 that evolves a market mechanism on reducing carbon footprints.

Countries like Brazil, Australia and India are sitting on credits representing millions of tons of carbon emissions left over from an old program created in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, according to Bloomberg.

Those credits are now virtually worthless after the price collapsed. Nations that still have those securities should want those Clean Development Mechanism credits to be recognised under the new system. But, opponents say that carrying-over old credits would dilute the new framework and undermine efforts to slash emissions, reports Bloomberg.

All parties are expected to develop ambitious national climate pledges (NDCs) and announce them in 2020; this needs to be formally mandated at this COP.

These plans are important as they will outline how the world will handle the rapidly growing climate emergency. However, for poor and vulnerable countries, their plans can only be implemented if they receive adequate support.

Developing countries are eager to take climate action and to build their resilience while transitioning towards low carbon development. It is, therefore, important that climate finance is scaled up, made predictable, accessible and is delivered by developed country parties.

"A lack of agreement about what climate finance is and what it can be used for challenges the trust amongst parties in these talks. What we have seen is that developed countries claim that they offer support, while developing countries question where the money is. Without trust, the talks on climate finance will not be solved," said Mattias.

Developed countries must ensure that their support is transparent and adequate and that it facilitates timely climate action where it is needed most.

The majority of existing climate finance is delivered to mitigation and the rest to adaptation. However, currently, there is no support allocated for loss and damage, making this a hot topic at COP25.

Developing countries are calling for loss and damage finance and support for those who are most affected by cyclones, droughts and floods and other climate impacts.

With the ongoing two-week talks on several key negotiating items either stalled or facing resistance, India's lead negotiator Ravi Shankar Prasad said the developed countries are not keeping the promises they had made in the past.

He said some countries have not been on track on Kyoto Protocol commitments. "Not on track on NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions), this is a cause of concern. Until this is addressed, we won't get good results."

On Article 6, the Indian negotiator said "The parties (countries) had invested in CDM (clean development mechanism), we are now being told that all of their investments are wasted. Can't send wrong signals for non-party stakeholders."

Details relating to evolving to carbon market mechanism are most likely to be deferred till the next climate summit in Britain in December, a negotiator said.

Harjeet Singh, ActionAid's global lead on climate change, who has been following the loss and damage negotiations for over a decade, said "Developing countries must stay strong in negotiations about finance for loss and damage.

"The rich countries responsible for climate change, particularly the US, Australia and Japan, are using every opportunity to water down proposals and protect the interests of polluting industries," he told IANS.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who is at the COP25 until the closing of the summit till late in evening, said on Friday that he was encouraged by the fact that the European Union decided to move ahead with its commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050.

"This example of #ClimateAction needs to be followed worldwide," he tweeted.

Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar, while addressing the high-level segment here early this week, asked the developed world to fulfil its commitment to provide $1 trillion in public finance and collaborate on technology, which is crucial for developing nations to fight climate change.

Eighty-four countries in the Climate Ambition Alliance are responding to the urgent need to reduce emissions in the next decade by signalling their intention to work towards enhancing their national Climate Action plans by 2020, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said.

With 197 parties, the UNFCCC has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, which comes into effect in January 2021.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

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Deadlock in UN talks on climate finance

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