UN Climate Summit: 23 September

Will world leaders at the Climate Summit match the courage of the school students who strike around the world against the climate emergency, or will they be put to shame?

20 September, New York: Will the tone of Monday’s UN Climate Summit pale in contrast with the courage of striking students who are taking a day off school in 120 countries,  to march for action to confront the climate emergency, though many know they could face severe penalties?

“We demand and expect the UN and leaders around the world to lead. With young people taking that role, now they have to show us they can catch up”, said Barbara Adams, from Global Policy Watch, a UN watchdog.

The climate emergency comes nearer every day, with the total devastation of the Bahamian Island of Abaco by Cyclone Dorian as the most recent example of the catastrophic effects of climate change. With temperatures predicted to rise by 1.5℃ in 10 years, ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option.

Developed countries must fulfil commitments to address the climate emergency

In the lead-up to the Climate Summit UN Secretary-General António Guterres has asked governments to promote action to address the climate emergency.

Writing in the Reflection Group’s Spotlight 2019, a report on the status of the 2030 Agenda,* Indrajit Bose, senior researcher with Third World Network, calls on developed country governments, which are responsible for causing the climate emergency, to uphold their commitments to support developing countries, which are already experiencing the effects.

Developed countries have – grudgingly – acknowledged their responsibility for the climate emergency, and pledged billions of dollars to support developing countries.

At the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2010, they agreed to address the needs of developing countries, and at the 2015 Paris Climate Summit, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was operationalised. It was agreed to mobilise US$100 billion a year by 2020 for the most vulnerable developing countries to take adaptation and mitigation measures.

Will developed countries step up to the plate at the Climate Summit?

“Those who have benefitted the most, must accept they need to change the most, and to make reparations”, says Barbara Adams. ”We wait to see if developed countries will use the occasion of the Climate Summit to agree to make good on their commitments for the GCF’s first formal replenishment in 2019”.

Unfortunately, the prospects are not good. Developed countries have tried to cut down on their financial commitments on the grounds that they will only give funds to match money that developing countries have accessed from other sources. In another sleight of hand, in order to increase their power on the Green Climate Fund Finance Board, they have tried to link their voting rights to the level of funds they agreed to put in, thus changing the current balance of 12 members from developing and 12 members from developed countries.

In his Spotlight contribution, Indrajit Bose emphasises that developed countries must:

  • fulfil their obligations on climate finance;.
  • recognise the critical need to help developing countries increase capacity to implement low-emissions and climate-resilient projects and programmes;.
  • stick to the Paris Agreement on a new collective, quantified finance goal before 2025 to take developing countries’ needs into account.

Will world leaders take the lead from the world’s children in pushing for stronger action on the climate emergency and on climate finance, or will they be put to shame?

For more information, or to talk to Barbara Adams or Indrajit Bose, please contact: Daphne Davies: Tel/WhatsApp +447770230251, Daphnedoubled@gmail.com

* The Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a joint initiative by a number of leading global civil society organisations including economic and social policy organisations, women’s groups and trade unions. It is supported by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. www.2030spotlight.org

Its publication Spotlight 2019 can be found here.

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