Climate-Vulnerable Countries and COP27
What are the priorities for the most climate-vulnerable countries at the COP27 climate conference? Many of those most at risk from the impacts of climate change did the least to contribute to it yet are positioned to experience the worst of its consequences. Some countries are already seeing these devastating impacts.
The ACT2025 grouping exists to ensure that the voices and priorities of the most climate-vulnerable countries are heard on issues ranging from mitigation and adaptation to finance and loss and damage.
“Vulnerable countries are hoping for and looking for increased climate action. Climate impacts have worsened, as we have seen with the floods in Pakistan, the drought in Africa, and the increase intensity of hurricanes in the US and in Southeast Asia.”
— Preety Bhandari, Senior Advisor, WRI Global Climate Program and the Finance Center
“What's at stake at COP27 for Colombia is that we need to have the means to deliver on our own commitments on climate change, while addressing loss and damage and adaptation. We are seeing sky rocketing inflation and a countrywide emergency with very increased rains. Our different development needs are competing against each other, and we don't need this.”
— Maria Laura Rojas, Executive Director, Transforma
- ACT2025 statement ahead of COP27
- ACT2025 Podcasts
- WRI Climate Program
- WRI COP27 Resource Hub
Nicholas Walton 0:06: Hello and welcome to the World Resources Institute’s big ideas into action podcast, as we head towards COP27 in Egypt. In this podcast our focus is on the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries, and the multiple crises that they’ve had to deal with so far in 2022
Preety Bhandari: Energy security, food security, security or supply chains, and more importantly also displacement of people due to climate impacts.
Nicholas Walton: So how do these countries view the COP27 negotiations? Will progress be made or will they be disappointed?
Maria Laura Rojas: We cannot lose hope. But to be honest, the credibility is at stake. The scepticism is well founded and we really need to see urgent action at this COP.
Nicholas Walton 0:51: Hello, I’m Nicholas Walton of the World Resources Institute. The evidence continues to mount that the climate change crisis is urgent, and action needs to be taken now to avert it and to minimise its impacts. Nowhere is this more true than for those vulnerable countries who are most at risk from these impacts. Many of these countries are part of a grouping called ACT2025, which tries to ensure that their voices are heard. So what exactly do they want? Preety Bhandari is the Senior Advisor to WRI’s Global Climate Program and the Finance Center.
Preety Bhandari 1:22: The vulnerable countries are hoping for and looking for increased climate action, which is in solidarity with them, with their cause. And as you know, climate impacts have worsened. And we have witnessed that adequately this year with the floods in Pakistan, with the drought in Africa, and also increased intensity of hurricanes in the US, in Southeast Asia. So with these worsening impacts, enhanced implementation of actions to reduce emissions, to adapt to climate change impacts, and to address losses and damages, need to be on an equal footing, with commensurate support being provided to vulnerable countries. So the asks of vulnerable countries are based on principles of equity and climate justice. And as much as in solidarity, to help them cope with a world which is beset by many crises at this point in time.
Nicholas Walton 2:33: I was going to ask you about the crises precede because obviously this time last year was we were approaching the COP in Glasgow. We were certainly still in the COVID crisis. And we certainly still are in that now, although it's lessened a bit. But since the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, the world has been beset by all sorts of things that were completely unforeseen: spikes in energy prices, food prices, lots of problems with energy security, you've got inflation, you've also had a lot of budgets in countries in the West, falling dramatically. And this is on top of what the world had already experienced with COVID. So how does that all feed in with what you're expecting and what you fear is going to happen?
Preety Bhandari 3:16: You're absolutely right, Nicholas, with the with the we are emerging from the pandemic, but with the crisis and Ukraine, which is having, you know, multiple fallouts, so, including increased cost of living and with changing, you know, geo economics and politics. In a fossil fuel dependent world, there are multiple security risks. You've mentioned the energy security, food security, security of supply chains, and more importantly also displacement of people due to climate impacts, so the impacts of all these multiple crises are disproportionately impacting vulnerable countries. And while there is a recognition that more needs to be done to support them, at this particular COP there will be various dimensions of this that will be unfolding, be it related to financing, adaptation, finance for loss and damage, but also the broad contours of financing in a world where the commitment of providing 100 billion dollars in climate financing has yet been made good. And also the various actors in the wider financial system outside the UNFCCC process are looking for a transition in the global financial systems, be it related to multilateral financing that is flowing through the multilateral development banks. Or it is relating to the debt crisis, which is unfolding in many of the developing countries due to many factors, but climate change is exacerbating those and limiting their fiscal space.
Nicholas Walton 5:12: As Preety says, finance is at the heart of what climate-vulnerable countries – many of which are relatively poor – need from COP27. Here’s Maria Laura Rojas of Transforma in Colombia, one of the ACT2025 partners.
Maria Laura Rojas 5:27: The financial obligations and commitments of developed countries under the climate convention are the anchors of the international public climate finance and a critical symbol of trust, international cooperation, climate justice, and solidarity. And it is really critical for vulnerable and developing countries, because they are facing multiple crisis. It's not just climate change, which is, of course, very relevant. But it's at the same time a public health crisis in relation to the ongoing pandemic, the economic contraction that these countries have seen, and, of course, increased levels of inequality that also impact how these countries prioritise and how they can address their development needs. So despite there being commitments in the context of the climate convention, they have not been fulfilled, as promised. And this hinders the trust and the durability of the process, and developing country's ability to deliver and to address climate change. In this particular climate finance will have, as always several items on the agenda. But the discussions that we anticipate will be most active and relevant for developing and vulnerable countries are discussions around the new collective quantified goal on climate finance, and the funding for loss and damage together of course, with the delivery that we are expecting to see in terms of the actual commitment of mobilisation of the 100 billion per year to 2025.
Nicholas Walton 6:49: You mentioned trust and the feeling among vulnerable countries that this money that's been promised will actually turn up and also that it'll be not just in the form of loans because especially following COVID, debt is really, really, really piling up for many countries.
Maria Laura Rojas 7:07: That is indeed the case. And it is were very worrisome, we actually have a term for it, which is climate induced debt. Around 26% of public finance reported, took the form of grants, while 71% was loans, either concessional and non-concessional. And this is too high a percentage of climate change finance, that is inducing that in countries that have already a constrained fiscal space for addressing all of the priorities that I was mentioning before, and that don't need greater constrictions but actually freeing the fiscal space so that this development challenges can be addressed. And the fact that this is not being properly incorporated in the negotiations, does undermine the trust in the process and the trust that developing countries can have towards the delivery of the commitments.
Nicholas Walton 7:59: Maria Laura Rojas of Transforma.
You’re listening to WRI’s big ideas into action podcast, in this episode looking at what the world’s most climate vulnerable countries want from COP27.
Back now to Preety Bhandari of WRI, and the key issue of Loss and Damage. Why is it so important?
Preety Bhandari 8:22: It is an important issue because of how climate impact and events are unfolding in front of us. As I mentioned earlier, if one just takes the example of Pakistan with one third of the country impacted by the floods earlier this summer, and with the cost of response and reconstruction billed at $40 billion: 40 billion too many for vulnerable country like Pakistan. The evidence is there, I mean I'm just talking about Pakistan. But even the scientific community has really raised the alarm bell with a recent Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that no matter how much we adapt to climate impacts, we are already in a 1.2 degree temperature increase world, and the intensity and severity of climate impacts is growing. And there are limits to adaptation. So we are in a world where we are already witnessing losses and damages. And with increasing temperature, these are just going to increase manifold. The brunt of it is being borne by vulnerable developing countries who do not have the wherewithal to deal with these impacts. Not the least because there are so many other development priorities that they have to take care of. Climate change is an added stressor to the to the development agenda.
Nicholas Walton 9:57: When you look at what's been discussed at COP, and what gets decided at the end of it, what are you looking at to see if you judge at a success or a relative success or a failure? What's important to you?
Preety Bhandari 10:11: On the loss and damage agenda, I think that three important elements going into this COP and frankly, the success of COP27 will be measured against how the loss and damage issue and the financing issue is addressed. The first element or important pillar I would say is getting a formal agenda item on financing and financial arrangements for loss and damage. Until now, what we have in the UNFCCC process is what is called the Glasgow dialogue, which is a three year dialogue with no decision making. So the group of 77 and China have formally asked for an agenda item to be there so that important decisions could be taken on funding arrangements for loss and damage at this COP. So adoption of that agenda item by all parties, I think is the first important element. The second is, during this two week process of negotiations, if this agenda item comes to pass, how a process can be launched, in a time bound and effective manner to put funding and funding arrangements in place under the UNFCCC. That is an important measure of success as well. And the third thing is to jettison this old narrative on compensation and liability while talking about loss and damage. Sometimes it's used as a red herring. But this matter was already settled at COP21, when the Paris Agreement came into being, and where loss and damage was included as an important article of the Paris Agreement. But the decision surrounding that very clearly said, loss and damage is not about liability and compensation.
Nicholas Walton 12:12: Preety Bhandari. Now back to Bogota and Maria Laura Rojas of ACT2025 partner Transforma. Is she optimistic about COP27?
Maria Laura Rojas 12:22: Always a challenging question. Yes. I feel optimistic because we need optimism to drive this process. We cannot lose hope. But to be honest, the credibility is at stake. The scepticism is well founded and we really need to see urgent action at this COP. In this specific case of the 600 billion for instance, the progress is not just delivering on the agreed quantity, this is no longer enough. We actually need to address the quality and composition of these resources, the transparency and the accessibility arrangements. So we need a roadmap for increasing this transparency, the accessibility and grant based finance for adaptation. This should ultimately result in parity between adaptation and mitigation by 2025, but this means that all of the financial flows need to be scaled up. Disparity is not about redistributing the current resources but actually increasing all of them, including grant based finance for adaptation.
Nicholas Walton 13:20: Finally, Maria Laura, what's at stake for a country such as Colombia, where you are at this minute, if things go right or if they go wrong?
Maria Laura Rojas 13:30: What's at stake for a country like Colombia in relation to the results of COP27 is, if a country like ours can trust the process, and if it will have the means not just to deliver on its commitments on climate change, but addressing loss and damage adaptation and increasing resilience. We are seeing sky rocket levels of inflation, as in many other countries around the world. And we are also seeing an emergency countrywide in relation to very increased rains, and that causes loss and damage for countries like Colombia, and that in the context of reduced fiscal space, make different development commitments to be competing a little bit, in between them. And we don't need this. We actually need all the resources that we can have, so that we can address climate change our development priorities and our economic model to make it in line with the Paris Agreement goals.
Nicholas Walton 14:34: And that was Maria Laura Rojas of Transforma, one of the partners in the ACT2025 grouping of climate-vulnerable countries. You can find much more on what ACT2025 countries want on our website, wri.org, along with loads more about COP27, including regular updates about exactly how climate negotiations are progressing. If you go to wri.org/podcasts you can also track down a short series of programs that I did before the Glasgow COP, a year ago, looking at the specific different issues that ACT2025 was focusing on – issues that are just as relevant now. I’m Nicholas Walton, thanks for listening.
Projects that include this Resource
COP27 Resource Hub
WRI experts are tracking progress throughout the UN climate negotiations, held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from November 6-18, 2022. Explore our COP27 Resource Hub for the latest news, articles, events and more.Part of Climate
Allied for Climate Transformation By 2025 (ACT2025)
Allied for Climate Transformation by 2025 (ACT2025) is a consortium that aims to elevate the voices and priorities of climate-vulnerable countries at UN climate negotiations.Part of Climate