Money pledges stacked up at COP28 in Dubai yesterday as delegates sought to address the huge gap between what is needed in climate finance and the amounts so far on offer.
The UAE, the host of this year’s conference, pledged to mobilise $270 billion in green finance by 2030 through its banks, and several development banks announced plans to increase their funding efforts, including by agreeing to pause debt repayments if a climate-related disaster hits.
The amount of cash needed for the energy transition, climate adaptation and disaster relief is overwhelming.
A report released yesterday estimated that emerging markets and developing countries will need $2.4 trillion a year in investment to cap emissions and adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.
“The world is not on track to realise the goals of the Paris Agreement. The reason for this failure is a lack of investment, particularly in emerging market and developing countries outside China,” said co-author Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
The 2015 the Paris conference set a goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), while aiming for a cap of 1.5C.
“The central challenge is to accelerate and implement the fostering and financing of this investment from a range of sources,” Stern said.
Vulnerable countries that are already being hit by costly climate disasters are asking for billions more through a newly formed disaster fund. Pledges to the fund so far total around $700 million.
“Unless we have an urgent set of decision-making, we are going to suffer what every parent suffers from – exciting expectations and being unable to deliver,” said Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, a prominent voice in global discussions about mobilising climate finance.
In a news conference, she urged countries to go beyond voluntary pledges and pleas to charities and private investors and instead consider taxes as a way to boost climate funding.
A global 0.1 per cent tax on financial services, for example, could raise $420bn, she said, while a 5pc tax on global oil and gas profits in 2022 would have yielded around $200bn.
“The planet needs global governance not in a big stick way, but in a simple way of us cooperating with each other to be able to work with the institutions that we have,” she added.
Other delegates, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, have called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies which have hit a record $7trn per year.
Activists with the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development said they worried the sums pledged would be inadequate.
“The climate finance that they have pledged at this COP28 is simply not enough,” said Pakistani activist Zaigham Abbas, whose country was devastated last year by flooding. “We are not looking for charity here ... The scale of the catastrophe that we are staring at is unprecedented.”
The biggest pledge yesterday came from the UAE’s banking system, joining peers in other regions in pledging to lend more to green projects. It followed a pledge on Friday of $30bn for climate-related projects from the Gulf state.
Elsewhere, France and Japan said they would support an African Development Bank drive to leverage IMF Special Drawing Rights for climate and development.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, meanwhile, said it would include climate resilient debt clauses in new loan deals with some poorer countries.
Danish investment firm Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners announced plans to raise $3bn for renewable projects in emerging markets.