‘Money mek the mare run’: Finance, success & the Peru climate talks

Attendees to the global climate talks in Lima, Peru go about their business at the start of week two of the negotiations on Monday, December 8, 2014. (Photo: Petre Williams-Raynor)
Attendees to the global climate talks in Lima, Peru go about their business at the start of week two of the negotiations on Monday, December 8, 2014. (Photo: Petre Williams-Raynor)

THE popular Jamaican adage ‘money mek the mare run’ appears true for the ongoing climate change talks in Lima, Peru — the success of which may come down to a firm decision on finance for climate actions in the developing world.

And this, around a number of issues considered critical for developing countries, including Jamaica and other small island developing states of the Caribbean.

These issues include the so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which are pledges by individual countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions — the fuel that sustains the ‘fire’ of global warming — as well as loss and damage associated with climate change impacts, in addition to climate change adaptation.

Information from the Climate Action Network (CAN) is that the state of play up to now is that the United States and the European Union “want all references to climate finance removed from both the pre-2020 road map and also from the post-2020 Paris agreement”.

We all know that climate finance is really critical for developing countries to be able to embark on development, let alone low-carbon pathways and also for developing countries to be able to adapt to the devastating impacts of climate change that they are feeling right now. So what’s happening here with the position of the US and the EU and with, in fact, most developed countries, is that they are effectively putting a blindfold on developing countries and saying ‘please trust us’,” said Kelly Dent, head of the Oxfam team here in Peru.

She was speaking at the CAN press conference, held earlier today.

 Some participants at the climate talks in Lima, Peru make good use of tree cover to do interviews. (Photo: Petre Williams-Raynor)
Some participants at the climate talks in Lima, Peru make good use of tree cover to do interviews. (Photo: Petre Williams-Raynor)

Climate change threatens, among other things, rising sea levels, greater warming of the globe, more intense weather events, including increased rainfall levels and associated flooding, as well as droughts.

All of these impacts amount to injury, death and destruction of not only property, but also livelihoods and entire economies, as countries face increasing levels of poverty and disease over the medium to long term.

To stave off these impacts, steep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required — from developed as well as developing countries.

However, to make that happen in developing countries — many of whom are already buckling under the burden of extreme poverty among sections of their population, disease and limping economies — increased inflows of money is vital — much like oxygen to the lungs.

That is the essential case being made by some here in Lima.

An exhibit at the climate talks in Lima, Peru encourages the adoption of trees, which serve an essential role as carbon sinks. (Photo: Petre Williams-Raynor)
An exhibit at the climate talks in Lima, Peru encourages the adoption of trees, which serve an essential role as carbon sinks. (Photo: Petre Williams-Raynor)

It is the basis on which they have asked for financial provisions as part an agreement on their INDCs; the mobilisation of the long-promised US$100 billion by 2020; and movement on a loss and damage mechanism.

“These financial resources are critical for developing countries and so it is a bright red line for them — and so it should be, because this is about their very survival. The time has some in these talks for us to stop holding climate finance hostage, to stop using it as a bargaining chip because without climate finance, the well is poisoned and Paris will actually be over before it has begun,” Dent said.

According to her, finance is a critical issue and one requiring a resolution here in Lima, ahead of the finalisation of a new international agreement on climate change, slated for next year in Paris, France.

“This is a really key challenge facing the Peruvian presidency and they must find a way through this. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is not the sum total of the commitments for the funds needed for climate finance, but it is an important part and we have seen 22 countries around the world commit to the GCF,” the Oxfam representative said.

“We have also seen Belgium indicate that they are going to be giving a pledge as well. What we need is for the ministers, governments from countries who have not yet committed to the GCF to make those pledges. We need to see countries like Liechtenstein, Austria, Australia, Iceland, and Ireland committing funds to the GCF. We also need to see funds going to the GCF’s little cousin, the Adaptation Fund,” she urged.

In the end, Dent predicted that the “real test” at these talks, which began last week, “is going to be whether developed countries can move beyond their hard line positions, their woefully inadequate positions and pledges, and develop a road map — both toward the US$100 billion pre-2020 and also to ensure that climate finance is in a post-2020 agreement or in the decision and elements text and that this will set the table for real progress in Paris.”

 — Petre Williams-Raynor

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Author:

I am a Jamaican journalist, writer, development worker and nascent 'social media student'. I have had a longstanding interest in environmental reporting, thanks in part to my first editor and good friend, Charmaine Clarke, who threw me, head first, into the coverage of same. I have no regrets.

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