COP27: Argentina Asks Developed Countries to Pay for Climate Impacts

The Argentine delegation to COP27 in Egypt, headed by Nicolini and Lehmann
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

COP27: Argentina Asks Developed Countries to Pay for Climate Impacts

Are developed countries willing to contribute the hundreds of billions of dollars that Latin America needs to adapt to the impact of climate change and transform their economies? That is the question that Argentina and other countries in the region came to Sharm El Sheikh, on the shores of the Red Sea, to ask.

This Egyptian spa, accustomed to receiving tourism with high purchasing power from the northern hemisphere, is currently the venue for the fantastic show that has become the annual United Nations Conferences on Climate Change, which have been held since 1995.

More than 33,000 people are accredited for this meeting, which features an endless list of daily activities for two weeks, in which governments, companies and organizations from almost 200 countries come to show themselves.

“We do not come to ask for alms; we have come to position ourselves as a bloc that demands compliance with climate financing commitments in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities,” Corina Lehmann, Director of Environmental Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, told elDiarioAR, one of the members of the Argentine delegation.

The premise that she mentions, which has appeared in all international instruments since 1992, establishes that developed countries, the main people responsible for climate change, must lead the fight against the global environmental crisis.

The rich nations did not fulfill the commitment written in 2015 in the Paris Agreement, to contribute 100,000 million dollars annually for climate action, but today Lehmann assured that it would no longer reach that figure.

"Different studies already show us that trillions of dollars are needed" for the so-called Global South, said the official in one of the busy corridors of the huge Egyptian Convention Center.

Despite the fact that, unlike last year in Glasgow, President Alberto Fernández did not come here and the Minister of the Environment, Juan Cabandié, did not even attend, Argentina on Wednesday made an attempt to show regional leadership in the financial claim to rich countries.

It was when he led the presentation of a document that bears the signature of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), in an act marked by informality, in which officials from Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama and Dominican Republic. The event was held at the Panama stand, since Argentina, like most countries in the region, does not have its own space here.

"It is a shame that Latin America does not act as a single bloc in the climate change negotiations," said the Argentine Climate Change Secretary, Cecilia Nicolini, in an act that attracted modest attention (there were about 40 people), in the context maddened by panels, announcements and simultaneous presentations that the COP has.

Indeed, while Africa negotiates as a whole, the region loses pressure capacity for its division. Argentina is part of the so-called ABU block, with Brazil and Uruguay, and also joins other developing countries in the G77 +China space.

Nicolini assured that the text was drafted by Argentina - in its capacity as president pro tempore of CELAC - and harangued those present when he said: "Let's not let the rules be established for us from outside."

In the document, developed countries are called upon to retroactively meet their aid commitments and contribute 600 billion dollars until 2024. Thereafter, they are asked to "transit from billions to trillions of dollars of climate financing, in line with the needs and priorities of developing countries”.

Mention is also made in the text of a particularly relevant issue for Argentina, which is the need to exchange external debt for climate action. Alberto Fernández raised it in the past and here in Egypt it was introduced by the new Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, one of the few Latin American heads of state present.

It is between 154 thousand and 198 thousand million dollars a year that Latin America needs to invest until 2030 in measures to transform their economies so as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve resilience in the face of climate change. That was the precision that Eduardo Latorre, an official of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), gave during the presentation of the document, who anticipated the data of a report from that body that has not yet been published.

Latin America is hit by a long economic and social crisis that worsened this year and, according to Latorre, has been reducing its investment in mitigation and adaptation to climate change in the last 20 years. Particularly when talking about adaptation, the official said, reference is made to issues related to poverty, such as the lack of water and sanitation.

According to data from ECLAC, the countries of the region have been investing in adaptation between 1 and 1.5% of their GDP and need to spend at least 3.4%.

This story was produced as part of the 2022 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security. It was first published in Spanish in El Diario AR on 10 November 2022 and has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Banner image: The Argentine delegation to COP27 in Egypt, headed by Nicolini and Lehmann / Credit: El Diario AR.

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