SDG 13 | climate action
Worst-hit countries ask the rich to exchange debt for “debt swaps”
“In the context of meaningful mitigation efforts and transparent implementation, developed countries are committed to the goal of raising US$100 billion annually by 2020 to meet the needs of developing countries”. Thus was written point 8 of the Copenhagen Agreement, which was ratified by over a hundred countries. The agreement which, in practice, was born unsuccessful because of the wording of the articles, because the word “obligation” was not reflected in the promise to reduce emissions or the funding of the effects of climate change.
The resolution reached at COP15 is still in force and the $100,000 marked in the Danish capital has never been reached, without fail due to lack of commitment. The United Nations recently “closed down $17,000 million” in the Emissions Gap Report last year, without knowing the total amount for 2020. Notably, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the amount stood at $83.3 billion. The forecast is “get it done in 2023”.
Commitment of 100,000 million marks directly to members of the European Union, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Japan and the United Kingdom. Qualified as “prosperous nations” at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, these twenty countries, detailed in Annex II of that resolution, accounted for nearly half of greenhouse gas emissions in the early ’90s. Three decades later, they still accounted for 40% of the world’s total.
The Rio de Janeiro summit asked them to finance disasters caused by climate change in the most disadvantaged countries. Copenhagen further limited the action, but “always without a legal link, as it will not be accepted,” say sources in the fight against the effects of climate. “There is no official number for each national contribution, but major economies including the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom have lost tens of billions of dollars from their share,” reveals an investigation by the NGO Carbon Brief.
The method calculated by the non-profit organization takes into account each country’s emissions and from there comes the specific figure that it should contribute towards mitigation and adaptation to the effects derived from global warming.
“The US current account balance is negative with a deficit of $32.4 billion,” Carbon Brief says, explained by its status as the largest historical issuer in the world. “It accounts for about a fifth of the CO2 emissions released, almost twice the contribution of China, which ranks second.
According to the British NGO, Washington has not even reached 20% of its respective share of the nearly $40,000 million climate bill. “The contribution was only 7,600 million,” he says. Red numbers are also in the accounts of Greece, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Portugal. On the other hand, “Switzerland’s $1 billion contribution was 436% of its fair share,” Carbon Brief notes. Spain is also in a group of states that have contributed more than their fair share.
pay off debt
However, as Carbon Brief reports, the funding “has been surrounded by its preference to provide climate finance in the form of loans rather than grants.” The “debt swap” is the most sought-after concept in the bilateral meetings, conferences and corridors of Sharm el-Sej (Egypt) in these first days of COP27.
The total amount of debt allocated to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis was 48.6 billion euros, more than half of the total investment in 2020 by all countries.
“The need for adaptation in the developing world will increase to 340 billion annually by 2030,” Guterres of Egypt warned. “Support today represents less than a tenth of that amount,” he says.