EPABanknotes in Afghanistan (for the article on financial flows for sustainable development)
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 10:13
With no fewer than 70,000 participants, the climate summit in Dubai will be the largest ever. The agenda for the summits is also becoming increasingly complex. And that slows down progress, experts tell NOS.
Unknown Paris appointment
Downsizing the climate summits requires setting new priorities, says researcher Pieter Pauw of Eindhoven University of Technology. According to the financing expert, that priority lies with an unknown but important agreement from the Paris Agreement: Article 2.1c.
This is about ‘redirecting polluting financial flows’ and is one of the three main goals of the 2015 climate agreement. Pauw calls it a revolutionary agreement that “can have a lot of impact very quickly”.
This impact also transcends the climate problem, says veteran of the UN climate treaty Luis Gomez-Echeverri. “For the first time, climate and sustainable development were linked. I was delighted, in 2015.” But unlike many other topics, the money flow agreement has not been on the agenda of the summits since Paris.
Outboard motor climate policy
The world is therefore missing out on an outboard engine for climate policy. If investments are no longer made in coal-fired power stations and combustion engines, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced much more easily.
Moreover, a lot of money becomes available to invest in, for example, sustainable energy – also in poor countries. “Redirecting financial flows can have much more effect on a global scale than the 100 billion in climate aid that is currently being discussed,” says Pauw.
How do we put this crucial Paris agreement into practice? Central bank regulation is one step, experts say. Preferably together, and therefore discussed at climate summits.
A handful of countries are specifically calling for negotiations in Dubai on the so-far ignored Paris goal. New Zealand is an active advocate and receives support from, for example, Switzerland, South Korea, Mexico and the EU.
This year, an attempt is being made to get money flows on the agenda, says Richard Klein of Stockholm
Environment Institute. But the expert believes there is a good chance that this will be removed before the hard negotiations start.
The resistance comes from a group of developing countries led by Egypt and Pakistan. They fear that the financing mechanism will become so important that it will come at the expense of previous commitments for direct climate aid. Similarly, proposals to reform the process first require that all current outstanding ends be resolved.
The outcome of that agenda battle is not yet known in Dubai a day before the official opening. In the worst case, such bickering continues throughout the summit. That happened last year during the messy and difficult climate summit in Egypt. Then the content was negotiated during the day and the agenda was negotiated at night.
“If we do manage to get the subject on the agenda, the question is at what cost,” says Klein. “What do other countries want to have on the agenda?” For example, everything at the climate summits is barter – even the agenda itself.
Gomez-Echeverri is looking beyond the climate summit. “This is not an issue that should only be negotiated within the UN, but also within the financial world itself.” But it is doubtful whether banks and pension funds will voluntarily become more sustainable without being politically encouraged to do so worldwide.