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Climate deal not possible if rich nations don't pay up: Katowice negotiator

Nitin Sethi/Katowice 05 Dec 18 | 09:55 PM

Mohamed Nasr, Minister Plenipotentioary and Chair of the African Group of Negotiators (Photo: Nitin Sethi)

“We cannot have a deal at Katowice without a climate finance package," says Mohamed Nasr, minister plenipotentiary and chairperson of the African Group of Negotiators on Climate change at Katowice. The Africa Group of Negotiators (AGN) collectively represent all African countries at the talks. Speaking to Nitin Sethi, he says developed countries have to show progression on their climate finance obligations both, collectively and individually. 

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Would the Africa Group of Nations be agreeable to a deal at Katowice that does not have a climate finance package. Say, if the deal instead postpones discussions on climate finance for future while the rest is detailed granularly here?

No way. No way. That is not acceptable to us. In fact climate finance is not just about article 9 of the Paris Agreement, it has relation to the transparency regime, to long-term finance and the replenishment of Green Climate Fund. What we have now are missing elements of the picture. We have the 1.5 degree UN IPCC report which tells us what we have to do to stay under 1.5 degree celsius and under 2 degree celsius.

It tells what are the implications for adaptation under it. But how much it will cost us to act and keep temperatures in check is not very clear. I cannot go to a policymaker of a developing country and say you have to reduce emissions by 50% by a specific year. He shall ask, what is the cost and where are the resources to do that? We shall do our best from our own resources, he would say. But, our best as it stands today will take us to 3 degree celsius temperature rise. 

The Africa Group of Nations has led negotiations on climate finance rules at the Katowice talks. What is the group demanding?

Our collective vision was that the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will be the vehicle to enhance the climate action ambition. We set a temperature target of 2 degree celsius. The whole process under Paris Agreement is about how to enhance action on both mitigation and adaptation. 

But, then there are two different views in Katowice on how to do this. One group is saying we can have more ambition by having more clarity and granularity on information on mitigation. Which is not a view that African Group of Nations shares. The African Group is very clear this alone cannot raise the ambition. It has to be complimented by clarity on the upfront information on finance - this makes a big difference, the scale of finance makes a big difference, the policies on it make a big difference. 

This relates to the operationalisation of article 9.5 of the Paris Agreement?

Reality is we need the catalyst for greater ambition on climate change. The catalyst is finance and technology transfer. And, we will get technology only when we have the finance. If we do not have the finance details upfront from developed countries and we don’t have different components of climate finance in place and operationalised, not just article 9.5 of Paris Agreement, we cannot progress. We are not asking for just article of the Paris Agreement. We have a bigger landscape of climate finance that needs to be operationalised through several provisions of the agreement. 

We have an entire ecosystem of several issues under Article 9 of the Paris Agreement itself to operationalise here at Katowice. Then we have the issue of progression. It is not as if the Paris Agreement says that the US $ 100 billion annual contribution by developed countries is the final goal that shall continue for next 100 years. 

You are referring to the global finance goal that the Paris Agreement requires developed countries to set?

Yes. The global finance goal has to be upwards of US $ 100 billion annually. We have to have the collective commitment of the developed countries but we also have to have individual countries’ commitments. 

Why is it important that developed countries progressively enhance their climate finance obligations?

Looking at geopolitical happening around us, some of our leaders from developing countries are hesitant to take strong positions and come forward with high ambition on climate change. Finance is going to be the main catalyst. We have seen that the Paris Agreement and the pledge to the Green Climate Fund of US $ 10.3 billion encouraged many developing countries to do so at one stage. Now substantial results on climate finance here at Katowice will help many other developing country heads of states see climate action as an opportunity and not just a challenge. 

It will ensure that heads of states feel that their economies are stable even as they act against climate change, that their energy production from renewable energy and other sources is stable and secure even as they act ambitiously on climate change. 

We see even countries that have ensured high levels of prosperity face problems when they impose taxes on petroleum etc linked to environment, such as France. We saw in Australia where governments went out on this. So, what do you expect from developing countries, that this is business as usual? No it is not. 

The developed countries for the first time began discussions on providing upfront information on climate finance. But, they have said they do not want to discuss how this information they provide shall be reviewed. What does the Africa Group feel about this?

It depends on what will be the final complete package on climate change. There are elements on transparency of climate finance, there are elements on long-term finance. We need to understand what we mean by a review. It is linked directly to where the Paris Agreement talks about progression. If I am asked under my Nationally Determined Contributions (targets under Paris Agreement) to show progression then I expect that countries that have the clear responsibility under the agreement and the Convention to provide finance will also show progression individually and collectively. It is important - that they do it as a collective and as well as individual countries. They should not be able to hide behind a collective number. They should show progression individually under their NDCs. We are not saying specific targets but they have to show and indicate progression. This progression in provision for climate finance has to be country driven and not donor driven - something we see at the moment in the Green Climate Funds (GCF). This is why a guidance on the future of Green Climate Fund is also part of the package on climate finance. What will be the scale of GCF. It cannot be that we take just the existing US $ 10 billion and live with it. 

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