As climate negotiations moved into higher gear this week, climate finance is still the main issue of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change, also known as COP24, taking place in the Polish city of Katowice.
On Sunday, Egypt and Germany were called on by the Polish presidency to sort out the differences that continued between developed and developing countries on climate finance.
“It is a historic role for Egypt and we are involved in all negotiation rooms at COP24,” Yasmine Fouad, Egypt's minister of environment, told Ahram Online.
“We have important issues to deal with during the negotiations to sort out the differences between the countries as part of the efforts to finalise the Paris Agreement Work Programme,” Minister Fouad added.
These issues include agreeing to find more support for the climate adaptation efforts, which is a priority to the developing countries.
“We believe it is more important currently than mitigation efforts in these countries,” Fouad pointed out.
“Developed countries don’t have a financing problem as we do in our countries.”
Another issue that Fouad is working on resolving is the restructuring of the UN Adaptation Fund, which is currently managed mainly by developing countries.
“Almost 90 percent of the fund’s board members are from developing countries,” she explained, adding that many developed countries want to be members of the board, and that this is met with opposition from many developing countries who fear this move will hinder their decision making ability.
The Adaptation Fund is an international fund that finances projects and efforts aimed at helping developing countries to adapt to the harmful effects of climate change. It was established under the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“Germany is currently the largest contributor to the fund,” Fouad noted, adding that no country will be able to fight climate change without funding.
Meanwhile, Jochen Flasbarth, German vice minister for the environment, nature conservation and nuclear safety, told Ahram Online that countries are looking from different sides at the same matter, and that brings difficulties in finding common ground.
“Minister Yasmine and I, however, have made relevant progress since yesterday and things are working very well to reach common ground,” Flasbarth said.
“Financial matters are sitting at the center of all the issues we are dealing with to sort out the differences of climate finance,” he stressed, adding that issues such as adaptation, mitigation and transparency are all related to the question of financing.
Flasbarth noted that it was decided in Paris that there is a need for predictability for climate financing for the developing world and for the developed countries as well.
“We are dealing currently, as facilitators together with Egypt, with issues like the adaptation fund, and long term financing after the year 2025,” he said.
“It is very unlikely to make progress in other areas of negotiations here at COP24 unless we solve, or at least foresee to solve, the financial issues. I am quite sure that we will do it on time,” Flasbarth stressed.
The climate is changing and will keep on changing all over the world, but is likely to become more extreme in the Mediterranean region as a result of the severe challenges represented mainly in water stress and extreme heat, said Nancy Saich, managerial advisor to the European Investment Bank (EIB).
“The changes are happening already and we need to find ways to adapt with them,” she added.
Many countries still have to have access to financing for more climate adaptation and mitigation efforts.
Saich also said that the EIB and the Green Climate Fund take into account the most up to date information about what is actually going on in regard to climate in every country that we are involved in, and how the project is going to impact the people and the society.
The Green Climate Fund was set up in 2010 at the United Nations climate talks to help developing countries tackle the challenge of climate change through finance for clean and efficient energy, as well as other climate mitigation and adaptation measures to help ease the effects of global warming.
Saich pointed out that financial institutions like the EIB provide technical assistance and help out with the design and the implementation of projects. The EIB takes into account whether these projects are going to be sustainable or not, and what will be the impact on climate change, she said.
COP24 is key in the international efforts to combat global warming, as the year 2018 was chosen by the countries who signed the Paris Agreement as the deadline for the adoption of implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement work programme.
“We cannot afford to fail in Katowice,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last week.
The Paris Agreement was reached in 2015 in the French capital during the COP21 climate change conference, and 197 countries agreed to step up their efforts to fight climate change problems and keep global temperature rises to well under 2°C, which is above pre-industrial levels. The countries also agreed to try to keep it close to 1.5°C as possible.