BY SOSIKENI LESA
11 November 2022, Sharm el-Sheikh, COP27 – Climate Finance is a priority issue for the Pacific Islands at the Twenty Seventh Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. At the end of the first week of the Climate Change negotiations, we touched base with the Pacific lead coordinator of this issue, Mr Wayne King. Wayne has a long history in the climate change negotiations, having attended the very first Conference of the Parties. We ask him how things are going so far.
Q: What are we, as a One Pacific, are asking for at these negotiations when it comes to climate finance?
A: Well there are really three main areas. Firstly, the key critical one for us is that we’ve now got on the agenda an issue around Loss and Damage funding arrangement so that was a hard one. It has taken 30 years to get us this far, that’s been a hard fought battle in that sense in the negotiations. We are now poised to negotiate the Loss and Damage funding arrangement which is more talk but its on the agenda so that’s good. The second one is the pledging and the commitment by our developed country partners to double the Adaptation Finance available – what we need to understand better is how do we measure that commitment and that’s one of the debates we are having here. The final, third one is making sure our partners live up to the pledges and commitments they made around the hundred-billion-dollar goal to help developing countries to implement the Paris Agreement.
Those are the three main Pacific asks.
Q: We have made progress on the first one, now the Loss and Damage funding arrangement discussions are now on the agenda, how are the negotiations for the other two areas going on day three?
A: We now have the Loss and Damage funding arrangement on the agenda and we are now right in the middle of discussions on the other two Pacific priority asks when it comes to climate finance. It looks likely they will come under a heading called long term finance and once its there, once everyone agrees, we can start to find ways to ensure we track that progress. The tracking is critical because when a country pledges money, we want to see the honouring of that pledge and that’s been the debate in all of these rooms at the moment. Sure, people have said something and made commitments, even the very large countries – they pledge that they want to give finance but it hasn’t arrived so we really want to push them to honour those commitments. Once they do commit, we want to track that progress.
Q: It seems unfair that commit to a 100-billion-dollar fund to be achieved by 2021, yet we haven’t achieved it and the goal post keeps moving – how do we work around that?
A: It’s really difficult because as I said with Loss and Damage its’ taken pretty much thirty years to come this far. We don’t envision this with the other areas, but you have got to do it in two ways, one is the technical negotiations and those are officials like us guys who are setting up the decisions but if we don’t find consensus because we are in a UN system which is based around consensus then it goes into the political arena. It is there that our decision makers, our leaders, will be the ones that will start to make those decisions and that will take place in the second week.
Q: How do these talks here, all the work that is happening here, translate to being felt by those in our Pacific Island homes that are already feeling the impacts of climate change?
A:. I think that is the reality, there are two things this process doesn’t do, its not all inclusive so people don’t understand or are aware of what we are trying to do in this process. It’s very politicised, its regionalised, you have groups of countries together and it doesn’t facilitate an outcome as easy. Now for our communities back home we want to deliver some results to them and these results will come in the form of proposals on finance but the key thing for them is that we should be listening to what they are saying so even though this is a top down process from here, it should be a bottom up approach from them and if we don’t do that well no one will able to get anything out of it.
Q: You attended COP1, did you ever envision that the negotiations would be how they are now, and they are growing and growing?
A: If you think back to those days, it was so simple. Today finance has got like, nine streams, that everyone has to follow, and they are all critical, so its morphed or evolved into this huge process which I don’t think there is any control of, we just have to keep going on it. A lot of people have questions and it’s about trying to benefit our countries and if we can’t do that by looking at how we link the top down with the bottom up then I think this is just going drag out forever.
Q.: We’re now at the end of the first week – you have a lot of long nights ahead!
That is just an inevitable way this process goes, and I told the newbies on our team that this is not a 100-metre sprint, you have got to pace yourselves for two and a half weeks, the stress on your body – this is not a healthy environment, it’s totally benign to your body and you behave in ways that you never would at home. You’ve really just got to slow down, keep your focus and just pace yourself.
The 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP27) is being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt from 6 to 18 November 2022.
It is being attended by Pacific leaders and their delegations, who are advocating for their survival. The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) is lead of the One CROP, working together to provide support to Pacific Islands.