Climate Summit: Asian Nations Push Wealthy Countries on $100B Annual Fund

BenarNews staff
Dhaka, Jakarta, Manila and Washington
Climate Summit: Asian Nations Push Wealthy Countries on $100B Annual Fund A Bangladeshi child sits on part of a house washed away due to erosion on the banks of the Padma River in Shariatpur, some 25 miles south of Dhaka, Sept. 13, 2018.

At an international summit this week, climate vulnerable Bangladesh and archipelago nations the Philippines and Indonesia urged developed economies to make good on a 2009 pledge of U.S. $100 billion a year to support climate action in emerging nations.

Wealthy nations must also take concrete actions to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions, said Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines at the Leaders Summit on Climate, convened by the United States.

Manila cannot reach its current goal of a 75-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 without external help, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said on Friday, the second day of the 2-day virtual summit.

“Of the Philippines’ 75 percent target, 72.29 percent is ‘conditional,’ or contingent, upon the support of climate finance, technologies and capacity development, which shall be provided by developed countries, as prescribed by the Paris Agreement,” said Dominguez, who is also chairman-designate of the Philippine Climate Change Commission.

“We look forward to seeing these commitments materialize.”

He was referring to a 2015 agreement on climate change, a legally binding international treaty adopted by 196 countries, including the United States. President Joe Biden brought Washington back under the agreement, after his predecessor had pulled the U.S. out.

The Philippines is located along the typhoon belt and the Pacific Ring of Fire, making it highly vulnerable to various natural disasters such as storms, floods and earthquakes, Dominguez said.

He added that although the Philippines accounts for only 0.3 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, it wants to become a world leader in drastically reducing greenhouse gases, because it is extremely vulnerable to the devastating effects of the climate crisis.

Similarly, despite resource constraints, Bangladesh spends about $5 billion, or about 2.5 percent of its GDP, on adaptation to climate change and resilience-building measures,  Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said.

Climate change is a critical issue for Bangladesh because of its exposure to extreme weather-related phenomena. Moreover, rising sea levels threaten low-lying areas along Bangladesh’s coastline, where millions of people live.

“Major economies, international financial institutions and private sectors should come forward for concessional climate financing as well as innovation,” Hasina said on Thursday in a virtual speech at the summit.

“Focus is needed on green economy and carbon neutral technologies with provision of technology transfer among nations,” said Hasina, the current chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a partnership of 48 countries considered the most threatened by climate change.

“Ensuring the annual target of 100 billion U.S. dollars” is imperative, she said.

‘Erosion of trust’

Official data on how much money flowed into the fund in 2020 is not yet available, but it appears that developed countries did not reach the $100 billion target, said a report in December by a group of climate finance experts.

If confirmed, the shortfall would erode trust between the developing and developed world.

“[D]elivering on this commitment is an important symbol of trust. … 2021 will, thus, be a critical year – to sustain trust between developed and developing countries,” said the report, titled “Delivering on the $100 billion Climate Finance Commitment and Transforming Climate Finance,” and commissioned by the United Nations Secretary General.

“There is a need for a significant ramping up of climate finance from here on in, and it will have to be mobilized from all sources.”

Bangladesh is optimistic about the goal of $100 billion a year in climate finance, now that Washington is back in the Paris Agreement, Foreign Minister A. K. Abdul Momen told journalists at an online press briefing on Friday.

“We are hopeful about finalizing the financing proposal because of demonstrated strong political commitment from the U.S.,” Momen said.

Biden’s announcement on Thursday of a new, more ambitious goal for slashing greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade shows his commitment, said Ainun Nishat, a Bangladeshi environmentalist.

Biden said the U.S. would aim to cut emissions 50-52 percent below levels it recorded in 2005, by 2030, roughly doubling cuts the country had earlier pledged to enact by 2025.

China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, followed by the United States. In 2018, China produced 28 percent of total CO2 emissions, and the United States was responsible for 15 percent, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The U.S. position on new emission restrictions is largely helpful to Bangladesh,” Nishat told BenarNews.

Indonesia’s forest fires – and haze

For his part, Indonesia’s President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said that addressing climate change was in the national interest, as his country is home to huge tropical forests and peatlands.

But for decades, companies and farmers have been clearing land by burning their vegetation, so they can set up lucrative palm oil and paper and pulp plantations. The fires often spread to protected forestlands. And the resulting giant blazes emit greenhouse gases and cause a heavy haze that crosses national boundaries and engulfs other Southeast Asian countries.

Forest management and the restoration of peatlands to their original condition would help reduce fires, and therefore, greenhouse gas emissions, USAID, a U.S. development and humanitarian organization has said.

In addition, Indonesia is abundant in coal, so the government relies on it for most of its energy requirements.  But the country needs to take a serious look at renewable energy sources to reduce its emissions under the Paris Agreement, global experts say.

Land management and energy conversion projects cost a lot of money, but Jokowi said Indonesia was serious about tackling these issues.

However, the developed world must first “take concrete action to lead by example” by reducing its use of resources, he said.

“We welcome several countries’ target to achieve net zero emission by 2050. However, to ensure credibility such commitment should be implemented based on the 2030 NDC commitments,” he said, referring to nationally determined contributions to reduce emissions.

“Developing countries will implement similar ambitions if developed countries’ commitments are credibly accompanied by concrete support. The fulfillment of commitments and support by developed countries are indeed a necessity.”

Kamran Reza Chowdhury in Dhaka, Ahmad Syamsudin in Jakarta, Jason Gutierrez in Manila, and Shailaja Neelakantan in Washington contributed to this report.


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