India’s G20 Presidency is an opportune moment to set the ambition expectation for COP28: UNFCCC Executive Secretary Mr Simon Stiell
New Delhi, February 24, 2023: India’s G20 Presidency is an opportune moment to push for the “very strong political signal” to set the ambition expectation for COP28 and the Global Stocktake said Mr Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at a High-level Session on COP28 Compass at the World Sustainable Development Summit in New Delhi on Friday.
“We are coming to the end of the technical phase of the Global Stocktake. But it is the following phase, the political piece, that requires elevation. It can only be affected by the political will and the support of all parties. In terms of moving the needle and within the G20, it is an opportune moment with India taking on the presidency,” observed Mr Stiell at ‘Towards Equity and Climate Justice’, a high-level session on COP28.
The Executive Secretary noted that while the Global Stocktake, which is set to conclude at COP28 in UAE this year, is an opportunity to look at “where we are and where we are not”, and is more importantly, “an opportunity to course correct.” “The response to the Global Stocktake has the greatest value. We are far from where we need to be,” said Mr Stiell.
Addressing the critical issue of climate finance, Mr Stiell highlighted that it continues to be “elephant in every negotiating room.” He pointed out that COP29 will be a finance COP where the delivery of the new, collective quantified goal on finance where “the billions are supposed to transform into the trillions” will be deliberated upon. Mr Steill added that a lot of work still needs to be done on the Loss and Damage Fund agreed upon at COP27.
Observing that the Loss and Damage Agreement at Sharm el- Sheikh provided hope to many low-income countries bearing the brunt of climate change, Mr Naseer Ahamed, Minister of Environment, Sri Lanka, highlighted that it also left a lot of questions unanswered. “The question now is how to populate the fund and how to disburse it. As one of the most vulnerable countries in the frontline of climate crisis facing large-scale biodiversity loss, Sri Lanka has recognised the need for a greater collective voice for urgent, speedy and equitable execution of the loss and damage fund,” said Mr Ahamed.
The Sri Lankan minister mooted the need to form a Climate Justice Forum to amplify the interests of like-minded climate vulnerable developing countries. Considering the magnitude of opportunities lost by not investing in nature, he also suggested “the establishment a first-of-its-kind international development bank” and proposed it be called the Biosphere Reserve Bank.
Speaking at the session, Ms Leena Nandan, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), emphasized the need to focus on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) at this year’s COP28. “That is where support is required, and that is what equity demands,” said Ms Nandan before adding, “as a developing country, we need much more focus on GGA, we need much more focus on loss and damage, and for the mechanisms for loss and damage to be in place. Having taken so long in mainstreaming loss and damage, let’s not waste any more time.”
On the need to take initiatives such as Lifestyles for Environment (LiFE) to international negotiations to globalise it, Ms Nandan said, “This is a thought we feel needs to resonate more. We are happy that it found a mention in the cover text of last year’s COP, but how we can mainstream mindful utilisation of resources is something which we hope will find a place in the deliberations at the upcoming COP.”
Noting that COP28 has to make significant progress on the Loss and Damage Fund, Ms Jennifer Morgan, State Secretary and Special Envoy for International Climate Action, Federal Foreign Office, Germany, said the focus will be on structuring the governance of the new fund and attracting innovative ways to finance it. On the USD 100 billion goal, Ms Morgan added, “It is clear the USD 100 billion have to be met. We have to perform.”
Moderating the discussion, Mr RR Rashmi, Distinguished Fellow, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), highlighted the need to evolve a framework for the upcoming COP28 where the focus is on GGA, climate finance and Global Stocktake.
Emphasizing that COP28 should make real and tangible progress on substance, not just on process, Mr Siddharthan Balasubramanian, Senior Advisor, ClimateWorks Foundation said, “I hope COP28 can withstand, wither away the shocks and deliver and focus on climate action.”
Dr Henning Wuester, Director, Initiative for Climate Action Transparency said that transparency is “actually a leadership issue” and added, “Transparency is critical for the Global Stocktake. Without good data and sound information the global stocktake cannot really deliver.” Mr Janos Pasztor, Executive Director, Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative, asserted that “the number one priority remains to reduce the risks of temperature overshoot taking place by accelerating the pace and size of the massive and transformational emission reduction required, coupled with increasing removal of carbon from the atmosphere.”
TERI and the UNFCCC signed a Letter of Intent to collaborate on initiatives such as the World Sustainable Development Summit.