Some Western countries and developmental organizations are publicly ramping up commitments towards climate adaptation finance to help vulnerable countries deal with the impacts of a warming planet but inside negotiation rooms, their delegates are walking back on their leaders' commitments.
The headline agenda on Monday at the ongoing COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, is on adaptation finance and had in attendance ministers from 30 countries and leaders of some of the biggest climate financing funds in the world.
The United Kingdom had last week announced that it was committing 140 million pounds for adaptation support to African countries. On Monday, the country announced a new 274m pounds adaptation support for Asian countries.
“This will empower 40m people with the means to adapt to climate change,” said Anne-Marie Belinda Trevelyan, the UK Secretary of State for International Trade.
Mari Pangestu, the World Bank Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships said 35 percent of the World Bank’s new financing will go to climate projects with half of that going towards adaptation.
She said the bank is contributing a quarter of the $100 billion pledged by Western countries to support adaptation finance in developing countries.
Steven Guilbeault, the Canadian minister of Environment and Climate Change, a former environmental activist said the government has committed to putting international climate finance over 5 years, from that they have committed to putting at least 40 percent of their $5.3bn towards climate adaptation.
He said Canada is contributing $45m over 5 years to the least developed countries fund to help some of the most vulnerable communities adapt.
“Canada will make its first ever contribution of over $10m to the adaptation fund and Canada will provide $10m to the national adaptation program global network.
Flemming Møller Mortensen, minister for Development Cooperation of Denmark who called climate change, the defining challenge of ‘our time,’ promised that Denmark will walk the talk.
“By 2023, we aim to deliver more than half a billion US dollars in grant-based financing for climate action. On top of that, Denmark will continue to mobilize climate financing from other sources including private investments.
“In total, we expect to contribute at least 1 percent of the collective target of $100bn.
"I have just launched a pilot scheme with state guarantees, a scheme that has the potential to mobilise an additional $450-4600m in the pilot phase."
While these announcements make for good newspaper headlines, inside the negotiation rooms where their delegates will commit to when and how these funds would be released, some on the African delegation say these rich countries are dithering.
Kwaku Afriyie, Ghanaian Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation said: “ It is very disheartening to note that the Global goal on adaptation, GCA, as per article 7.1 of the Paris Agreement is still non-operational.
“At this current negotiation room, African negotiators are finding it very difficult pushing this agenda through and this goes to emphasize the fact that what has been said at the higher levels, of commitments by our colleagues in the G20s and the developed countries are far different from what is happening in the negotiations rooms,” he said. “It is very unfortunate and sad indeed.”
Experts say Africa is warming faster than any continent in the world making adaptation finance its highest priority as it represents an existential threat to its people.
This is why the African delegation at COP26 is insisting that major emitters must produce additional commitments to further reduce their emissions, and support the 50/50 adaptation and mitigation plans.
Femi Adeshina, President of the African Development Bank, said Africa loses $7 billion or $15 billion a year to climate change, and this could rise to $50 billion a year by 2040.
Adeshina said the AfDB would double its climate finance to $25bn by 2025, making up 40 percent of the total bank’s investments on climate-related issues. He said the AfDB is the only multilateral agency that has surpassed 50/50 parity for adaptation and mitigation.
The goal of adaptation is to reduce vulnerability to the harmful effects of climate change. Governments, multilateral agencies, and private donors contribute to the funds aimed at financing adaptation around the world.
Africa and other developing countries especially in coastal areas are particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change.
The world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities are already struggling to cope with the impact of human activities on the environment.
“Those who are most vulnerable to climate change have done the least to cause it, this is fundamentally unfair,” said Trevelyan.
According to the latest Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report, just over $20bn about 25 percent of total climate finance goes to adaptation.
“This is a fraction of the expected $300 billion needed by 2030,” said Amina Mohammed, deputy secretary-general of the United Nations. “This is why the Secretary-General continues to call on all donors to allocate at least 50 percent of their climate finance on adaptation,” she said.
Africa receives only 3 percent of the global climate funds, Adeshina said.
Ban Ki-Moon, former UN Secretary-general at the conference urged world leaders to do more than just talk and redeem themselves in the eyes of young people who see them as failing.
It doesn’t appear this counsel would hold much water as several African countries report that their colleagues are not matching public statements with action.
This story was originally published in Business Day on November 8, 2021. It was produced as part of the 2021 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security.