Pakistan is counting the devastating cost of climate change right now. One thousand people dead so far, 1,600 injured, 33 million displaced, two million acres of crops gone and a third of the country under water. The floods were, perhaps, an opportunity for G20 climate ministers meeting in Indonesia last week to signal their determination to tackle the worsening global crisis. Instead the lack of a statement or communique, allied with a rambling press event from the Indonesia hosts, suggests deep splits among governments.
“What we did see was a number of countries backsliding on the commitments that they made in Paris and in Glasgow,” COP26 President Alok Sharma told Reuters. Observers say China – itself suffering a record-breaking heatwave and drought – pushed back on all references to the 1.5C temperature limit (which was in both the 2021 G20 leaders text and Glasgow Pact). Brazil and Saudi Arabia were among others blamed for little progress. Hosts Indonesia – branded weak by some – indicated tensions over Russia exacerbated splits.
Pakistan’s clean-up bill will top $10bn, according to planning minister Ahsan Iqbal. Add to that expected food shortages and long-term migration shifts, and the country’s $1.1bn bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday looks derisory. Pakistan does have experience of severe floods – in 2010 around 20 million people were impacted, compared to 30 million this time round. Expect campaigners to ramp up their call for a COP27 loss & damage finance plan at the UN General Assembly, which starts on 13 September.
*China’s CO2 emissions fell 8% in Q2 of 2022
*Lula backs Brazil-Congo-Indonesia rainforest alliance
*Climate ‘trust funds‘: the answer to the $100bn headache?
*US envoy Kerry asks China to reboot climate talks
*China says US climate talks could resume, sets conditions
*Nigeria outlines plans for national cap and trade system
*Egypt NGOs fear COP27 shut-out by govt
*Truss set to appoint ‘climate dinosaur‘ as UK energy chief
*US rolls out $1500 a tonne methane charge
The scale and intensity of these disasters will steadily increase as the planet warms. That was the blunt warning from the IPCC WG2 climate science report. And new UN climate boss Simon Stiell – formerly Grenada’s environment minister – made saving the 1.5C target central to his first tweet in the role. A vocal champion for small islands, adaptation investment and more aggressive carbon cuts while a minister, we can expect Stiell to inject new energy and focus into UN climate communications.
The looming UN General Assembly will be dominated by Russia’s war on Ukraine and US-China tensions, but expect small islands and African nations to demand more climate finance support. UN boss Antonio Guterres spoke last week of his “outrage” that climate action is “being put on the back burner”. Vanuatu’s government, tired of inaction, will seek UN General Assembly backing to get the International Court of Justice – the world’s top court – to issue a legal ruling on climate change.
All this makes Egypt’s task of delivering a successful COP in November look tougher by the day, with some even questioning the UNFCCC’s future. The conspicuous lack of new climate finance is a massive headache for the organisers – as this Nature editorial explains. The UN’s NDC synthesis report due 23 September will not – despite India’s new plan – send corks popping. On the flip side, this July speech by Germany’s foreign minister suggests there is at least a window for compromise on loss & damage in Europe.
US Democrats are busy taking victory laps and high fives over the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which promises to deliver $369bn additional public investments for clean energy and climate in the US. It’s a start, but domestic action to reduce emissions is only one pillar of what developed countries committed to do under the Paris Agreement. The US is still a major laggard when it comes to providing support to developing countries, as this NRDC analysis makes clear.
Last year, Biden made a major pledge to increase US climate finance to $11bn a year by 2024, quadrupling Obama-era levels. Getting the funding approved by Congress continues to be an uphill struggle – for the fiscal year 2022, Congress approved just $1bn for dedicated international climate funding. If US officials arrive in Sharm expecting to be celebrated as heroes without having delivered on their international funding commitments, they will be in for a rude awakening.
New figures from the IMF help put these numbers in context. It reckons $6-$10tn is needed through the 2020s to meet the climate challenge and super-charge clean energy, around 6-10% of annual global GDP. IMF boss Kristalina Georgieva published an intriguing blog mid August urging governments and development banks to move fast to cut clean energy investment risks & hinting the IMF will offer advice in October’s Global Financial Stability Report. Climate is “one of the most critical macroeconomic and financial policy challenges that IMF members face,” she wrote.