The fight for climate finance

Jessica Murphy, St Philomenas Catholic High School for Girls

Wednesday 3rd November 2021

On day four of COP26, the theme discussed was climate finance. This refers to local, national or transnational financing that supports mitigation and adaptation actions that will address climate change. Rishi Sunak delivered a speech centred on the targets made in the Paris agreement in 2015, which was to send $100 billion per year to developing countries from Annex I countries of the UNFCCC agreement, to support these countries in repaying debts. It was expected to be completed by 2020 – however, this promise has not been carried out. This caused the frustration and displeasure of developing countries, as they are currently facing a double tragedy due to climate change and Covid-19. Unfortunately, even if this money is paid by the new deadline in 2023, the majority is given as a loan, which means that the developing countries will still have to pay it back. Surely it is down to those responsible to pay to put an end to the consequences of their actions. How is this fair?

Another significant conversation focused on the UK becoming the world’s first ‘net zero aligned finance centre,’ according to Rishi Sunak, meaning they are planning to make it mandatory for firms to publish a clear plan on how they will decarbonise and move into net zero by 2050. Greenpeace - the well-known environmental NGO – has said that they accept this idea, but they are wary that this could be a ‘marketing slogan’. They argue that there has not been much change to fossil fuel usage as well as renewable energy information. Following this, the charity Christian aid says that ‘the UK government must mandate the financial sector to act with urgency to end fossil fuel investment.’ Many hope that COP26 will keep the world on track for 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming to prevent the world from experiencing the worst impacts of climate change. However, scientists have said that the strategies in place will only limit the temperature to 1.9 degrees Celsius and not the desired 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The discussions and decisions made on this day could have a substantial impact on my future. Firstly, the $100 billion to developing countries from the wealthy nations could lead to higher taxes and higher VAT. It is a hefty sum of money considering the UK is already in debt. However, we have a social responsibility to give this money to the developing countries who need it, since it is countries like the UK that emit enormous amounts of greenhouse gases, not developing nations. I think it is a good and important thing to send this money to developing countries as it can assist them into reducing future emissions as well as building defences against flooding and more extreme weather conditions.

If we do meet net-zero in 2050 there could be a diversification of jobs. For example, a loss of jobs in petrol stations, factories, mining etc. but on a more positive note, new jobs will be created such as a renewable energy engineer, an urban farmer, and a sustainability consultant. If the promises made today end up being broken or abandoned for a second time the outcomes will be unfavourable, to say the least. In the UK we could lose farmland to flooding, extinction of some plant types, wetter and warmer winters and hotter and drier summers. Developing countries will experience far more severe problems including millions being pushed into inescapable poverty, severe floods and droughts as well as severe starvation. To start off this may seem like a costly process but if we do not act soon the effects will be irreversible and most, if not all, people on this planet will be experience the harrowing effects of climate change.

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