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Dec 13, 2018

SIDS Finance Negotiators: “Are Developed Countries Delivering on Commitment?”

Tonight we have another report on COP 24 in Poland where negotiations are expected to go into the weekend since not much progress has been made in creating the rules for how the Paris Agreement will be implemented. The agreement recognises that to cut emissions to lower global average temperature well below two degrees and help countries to adapt to the changes, there is need for financing for poorer countries that are more vulnerable. And so the issue of finance is a contentious one. Bigger countries had pledged one hundred billion dollars to developing states by 2020 to ensure that the mechanisms are in place. Finance negotiators want to define the rules for accounting climate finance, as well as to better track how those monies are moved to developing countries. The checks and balances, however, are slow in coming and negotiators want to know if the developed countries are going to make good on that billion-dollar promise. Today reporter Andrea Polanco spoke with Belize’s Ambassador Janine Felson, who is a finance negotiator on the AOSIS team, to find out just how these negotiations weigh on the developing countries.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The cost of addressing climate change is going up. And those costs are hurting the Small Island Developing States. There is the need for new technologies, infrastructure and skills to tackle climate change in vulnerable regions. But because they can’t afford it, they have to rely on public and private sources for climate finance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to implement measures to adapt to the changing environment.  And developed countries have pledged big monies to help the developing states by 2020. So, at COP 24, finance negotiators want to map out how those monies move between the developed and developing countries.


Janine Felson

Ambassador Janine Felson, Negotiator, AOSIS

“So, at a discussion on finance, we are looking at technical level on accounting modalities where we can track financial flows from developed to developing countries. That is really at the heart of the discussion. Presently it is not about finding any particular goal at this point in time. We have on the table, one hundred billion dollar goal per annum through to 2025. We have tried to get developed countries to agree to start a process to define that but at present they are hesitant to do that. So, the question we want to get at is are you delivering on the commitment that you made to us?”


But why are developed countries slow in ironing out these issues?


Ambassador Janine Felson

“With respect to the tracking of finance flows, they are very careful about how much they expose themselves in terms of the delivery of finance. And each one has their own particular concerns, so the modalities have to be crafted in a way so that each one of them feels comfortable that they won’t expose themselves. That is one thing. The second thing is that with the Paris Agreement, one of the nuances in that convention, that is different from the framework convention, is that now we have a commitment that we should all be shifting finance flows towards low-carbon, climate resilient pathways. All; meaning developed and developing parties. So, they do not want to engage on any discussion on the collective goal if they cannot discuss the donor base. And of course, emerging economies, high income economies that are developing countries are hesitant, and rightly so, that they will now be a part of this goal setting exercise.  And that is at the crux of the matter.”


And because of these issues, among others, the SIDS have found themselves  in a tight spot. Felson says that SIDS, being one of the region’s most in need of climate financing only receives two percent of the available funding. And if parties cannot address these issues and find a common way forward – it will be those who are most affected by climate change to feel the consequences all over again.


Ambassador Janine Felson

“I think things will continue the way they are. The recent report on climate finance shows that small island developing states only receive two percent of bi-lateral funding and we are recognised as the ones who are recognised as the ones who should be prioritised in any context of bilateral financing. So, the loss actually would be for us not to be able to say, ‘look, you are committed to prioritise us in relation to public sources of grant base financing and figures aren’t matching up. We are no longer able to bring that to their attention to reset how they are actually focusing their bilateral financing. I think that is a loss for us.”


Another critical topic for discussion on the issue of finance is the loss and damage mechanism in developing countries. This was established at COP 19 to address loss and damage that are associated with the impacts of climate change. Felson says they now want to know if countries be making commitments to this mechanism. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


This story was supported by the 2018 Climate Change Media Partnership, a collaboration between Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Foundation.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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