Contents

  1. Deconstructing climate finance
  2. Aiding Afghans: On G20 meeting on Afghanistan

Deconstructing climate finance

Context:

  • In the run-up to the 26th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), media reports have claimed that developed countries are inching closer to the target of providing $100 billion annually in climate finance to developing countries by 2025 (the original target was 2020).
  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has also claimed that climate finance provided by developed countries had reached $78.9 billion in 2018.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Conservation of Environment and Ecology, International Agreements)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Understanding Developed vs. Developing Countries in Climate Change action
  2. Erroneous Claims by Developed Countries
  3. Conclusion

Understanding Developed vs. Developing Countries in Climate Change action

  • The 25th Conference of Parties (COP25) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was concluded at Madrid in December 2019. Instead of being hailed as a milestone, almost universally, it has been held to be a failure. The reason for the failure of these negotiations can be attributed to a lack of consensus between developed and developing countries on various issues.

Shifting Responsibility

  • The UNFCCC in its explicit articulation of the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) as the basis for climate action, calls on the developed countries to take the lead in mitigating climate change. However, developed countries are of the view that with economic growth witnessed by developing nations, the principle of CBDR has somehow become outdated.
  • The developing countries argue that, though economic growth has taken place, global inequality remains quite high. Thus, acknowledging the continuing validity of the differentiation of developed and developing countries is, therefore, essential to making sense of the global politics of climate change.

Disregard to Commitments

  • Developed countries agreed in the Paris Agreement to fulfil their pre-2020 commitments (part of the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol from 2013 to 2020) before the start of the implementation of the Paris Agreement in 2020. However, the issue of what has been done so far, especially by developed countries, is one of the foremost challenges faced in climate change negotiations.
  • A report on Biennial Reports of the developed countries and their National Greenhouse Gas Inventories showed that, by 2017, Developed Countries had reduced their annual emissions only by some 13% below the 1990 levels against 25% to 40% reduction by 2020 (that is required of these countries, according to the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

On Finances

  • In the matter of finance for climate action, the Copenhagen pledge by the developed countries of mobilising $100 billion annually by 2020 is nowhere near being kept. However, the total financial support that has been mobilised by 2016, amounted to $37.5 million only.
  • Further, almost 80% of this “assistance” to developing countries is mitigation-linked with only 15% for adaptation, while the major part of what has been disbursed is in the form of loans rather than grants.

Disregard to UNFCCC

  • There has been a continuing attempt by the developed countries to set aside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in practice and push all considerations into the framework of the Paris Agreement. Most developing countries have insisted on keeping the overarching role and significance of the Convention very much in place.
  • This is particularly important since the only way to maintain pressure on the US is through the Convention and the processes under it, as it is set to withdraw from the Paris Agreement by 2020.
  • Also, developing countries want clarity on the extent to which developed countries will be able to absorb their pre-2020 commitments into their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement,

Paris deal issue

  • Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which refers to carbon trading, has been not finalised yet and developed countries insist on the adoption of this article, as it places no bar on countries upscaling their efforts at a drastic reduction in emissions through independent domestic action.
  • China and India, have taken a wide range of initiatives in mitigation, without the assistance of carbon trading. However, other developing countries fear that the article may allow the developed countries to restrict advanced technology to developing countries.

Erroneous Claims by Developed Countries

Finances from Developed to the Developing Countries

  • Awarding finances from the developed to the developing countries should be from public sources either in the form of grants or as concessional loans.
  • However, the OECD report makes it clear that the public finance component amounted to only $62.2 billion in 2018, with bilateral funding of about $32.7 billion and $29.2 billion through multilateral institutions.
  • Of the public finance component, loans comprise 74%, while grants make up only 20%. The report does not say how much of the total loan component of $46.3 billion is concessional. Between 2013 and 2018, the share of loans has continued to rise, while the share of grants decreased.
  • The numbers clearly reveal a higher proportion of finances were conferred as loans and not as grants increasing the debt burden of many low-income countries.

Inflating Climate Finances

  • The OECD reports are also criticized for bloating climate finances. It had included development projects such as health and education that only notionally target climate action.

Biennial Reports

  • The 2018 Biennial Assessment of UNFCCC’s Standing Committee on Finance reports that on average, developed countries provided only $26 billion per year as climate-specific finance between 2011-2016. This rose to an average of $36.2 billion in 2017-18.

Oxfam report

  • The Oxfam report on climate finance takes into picture the estimate of how much climate finance is actually targeting climate action, discounts for grant equivalence and thus takes into perspective the outcome of such investments.
  • In contrast to the OECD report, Oxfam estimates that in 2017-18, out of an average of $59.5 billion of public climate finance reported by developed countries, the climate-specific net assistance ranged only between $19 and $22.5 billion per year.

U.S. climate funding

  • U.S. President Joe Biden has promised to double US international climate finance by 2024. However, it is the US congress that has to decide on the quantum of finances and the US in the past has also broken commitments.
  • Even if the finances are mobilized it will be mostly from the Private sector and such investments from the private sector will be based on benefits they wish to derive and not as per the priorities and needs of the developing countries.

Adaptation and Mitigation

  • Climate finance has also remained tilted towards mitigation, despite the repeated calls for maintaining a balance between adaptation and mitigation.
  • Currently available adaptation finance is significantly lower than the needs expressed in the Nationally Determined Contributions submitted by developing countries.

Conclusion

  • The challenge of climate change should only be met through global collective action based on equity, driven by a clear commitment to multilateralism by all nations.
  • The developing countries need to persist with the strategy of prioritising sustainable development while using multilateral fora for maintaining pressure on the developed countries to take the lead in climate action.
  • Developing countries should continue to put pressure on developed countries to live up to their promises and commitments as the history of climate negotiations has not been in their favor.

-Source: The Hindu


Aiding Afghans: On G20 meeting on Afghanistan

Context:

At a meeting of countries with the world’s highest GDPs — the G20 — Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for the international community to provide Afghanistan with “immediate and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance”.

The meeting came as the UNHCR published a new appeal for funds, with a report that half the population (more than 20 million people) are in need of “lifesaving humanitarian assistance”, and the UN has received only 35% of the funds needed for its relief operations.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbours, India’s Foreign Policy, Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests, Important International Groupings)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Taliban’s Victory in Afghanistan
  2. Taliban and their Ideology
  3. About the UNHCR appeals for Funds to support Afghans
  4. What is the current financial situation of Afghanistan?
  5. Significance of Afghanistan for India
  6. Way Forward – How can India Help?

Click Here to read about Taliban’s Victory in Afghanistan

Click Here to read about Taliban and their Ideology

About the UNHCR appeals for Funds to support Afghans

  • UNHCR has published a report that states that half the population in Afghanistan (more than 20 million people) are in need of lifesaving humanitarian assistance.
  • An estimated 270,000 Afghans have been newly displaced inside the country since January 2021.
  • The number of civilian casualties has risen 29 per cent during the first quarter of this year compared to 2020.
  • The UN has received only 35% of the funds needed for its relief operations.

About the pledges so far

  • EU has already committed $1.15 billion for Afghanistan and neighbouring countries where refugees have fled.
  • The U.S. and China pledged $1.1 billion at a donor conference in Geneva last month.
  • G20 leaders have also pledged to help for Afghan humanitarian crisis at special summit.

What is the current financial situation of Afghanistan?

  • As a result of the Taliban takeover, most direct aid to the Afghan government has been stopped; its reserves have been frozen by the U.S., making it impossible for salaries to be paid.
  • The Taliban government’s refusal to allow women to work and its stopping girls from schooling have made the situation more problematic.
  • As the recognition of the Taliban and any governmental engagement is still a long way off, the world is faced with a critical choice of ensuring that Afghanistan does not suffer further.

Significance of Afghanistan for India

  • Afghanistan is a strategic investment for India, and India has made significant contributions to the rebuilding of the country.
  • Indian has engaged with Afghanistan previously by:
    1. Developing social infrastructure as hospitals, schools;
    2. Public infrastructure such as Salma dam, and parliament building;
    3. Humanitarian assistance such as medical missions;
    4. Training of military officer and soldiers;
    5. Supporting military warfare such as providing military helicopters and repairing the old soviet era helicopters.
  • Afghanistan is a gateway for The International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC) for India.
  • India’s development of the Chabahar Port is of great strategic importance for the development of regional maritime transit traffic to Afghanistan and Central Asia
  • Afghanistan is also involved in The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI) Project.
  • Afghanistan can help India to overcome/oppose China’s The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, or B&R), formerly known as One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.
  • Afghanistan can help fulfil India’s Oil demands.

India’s Current Dilemma after Taliban’s Victory

  • Taliban took over of Afghanistan, with support from Pakistan while maintaining links with terror groups including those that target India.
  • This leaves the Government in an ambiguous position of increasing engagement or sending aid directly to the new regime.

Way Forward – How can India Help?

  • Maintaining links with terror groups including those that target India leaves little space for government to increase its engagement or to send aid directly to the new regime.
  • Coordinating with the Taliban does not necessarily mean recognising their administration – therefore, India could contribute to international agencies that are working with displaced Afghans.
  • The government could also consider liberalising its visa regime for Afghans.
  • As a goodwill gesture, India could send food aid, including wheat, grain, fortified biscuits and other packaged food directly to Afghanistan.
  • Presenting itself as a regional leader, India has to play a key role in unfolding the humanitarian crisis because not only Afghans but also the rest of the world will pay a heavy price.

-Source: The Hindu

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