Developed world should raise climate fund: UN Environment head

Marrakech, Nov 15 (IANS) The developed world should increase and accelerate their support to the developing nations bearing the brunt of climate change like rising sea levels, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Erik Solheim said here on Tuesday.

“The world has promised to help developing countries adapt to the disruption and hardship caused by changes such as altered rainfall patterns and rising sea levels,” an official statement quoting Solheim said.

Under the Paris Agreement, wealthy nations have pledged to mobilise $100 billion a year by 2020 to help the developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to rising temperatures and to boost that figure from 2025.

“We must keep that promise, narrow the adaptation finance gap and prevent it from widening further by re-doubling our efforts to stabilise the world’s climate,” said the UN Environment head, who is here to attend the high-level segment of the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP 22).

The UN Environment’s Adaptation Finance Gap Report 2016 shows the cost for the developing countries of adaptation alone could range from $140 billion to $300 billion by 2030, and from $280 billion to $500 billion by 2050 — up to five times higher than previously estimated.

In an exclusive interview with IANS ahead of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Solheim said: “Yes, Marrakech will be an action meeting.”

He said the developing world is more vulnerable to climate change than the developed.

“Heat and extreme weather is a bigger concern in the South than in the North. South Asia and small island development states have contributed little to the emissions causing climate change, yet they must expect the most severe consequences.”

“This is why we need to act in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. And that’s the reason why the most developed countries must contribute more financially and share technology,” he said.

Fortunately, he said, many developing nations are taking the lead in the green shift.

According to the UN Environment’s Emissions Gap Report, released last week, the world is still heading for global warming of 2.9 to 3.4 degrees Celsius this century, much beyond the recommended limit of two degrees.

The UN Environment research shows total bilateral and multilateral finance for climate change adaptation has been increasing steadily and reached $25 billion in 2014.

Of that sum, $22.5 billion went to help countries in regions, including South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, with projects such as water and wastewater management.

In future, much of this support will be distributed through development finance institutions. By the end of 2015, just over $35 billion, or 76 per cent of the resources pledged to adaptation-focused climate funds, had been approved for disbursement.

The Green Climate Fund, which is expected to play a significant role in financing adaptation, has set a target of committing $2.5 billion by the end of 2016. Its board approved 10 projects last month, spanning both mitigation and adaptation.

A total of $1.2 billion has been committed so far.

The Least Developed Countries Fund has cleared projects worth more than $170 million, but does not yet have funding available.

“Developing countries are understandably keen to receive the funds that they urgently need for adaptation,” Solheim said.

“Building resilience in developing countries could now prevent climate-induced natural disasters and economic collapse later, and we should do all we can to identify and fund deserving projects as quickly as possible,” the UN Environment head said.

(Vishal Gulati is in Marrakech at the invitation of the Global Strategic Communication Council to cover COP 22. He can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

–IANS

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