Comment: While governments redirect emergency aid towards Ukraine, they must find additional funds to finance climate finance. This will ensure that the two crises are not stacked against each other.
Just over four months ago, ministers representing developed countries at the Cop26 UN climate summit held in Glasgow promised to increase their climate support for developing countries.
This promise was an integral part of the Glasgow Pact. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February shifted priorities, challenging a commitment made to the world’s most climate vulnerable nations.
The war in Ukraine is a horrifying crisis that must be addressed by the world’s most powerful nations. But its implications go far beyond the country’s border, the humanitarian crisis and millions of displaced people.
There are serious implications for how the world responds to the climate crisis.
Climate finance is financed almost entirely through aid budgets in most developed countries. If wealthy countries want to increase climate finance, they will need to provide more development aid to support efforts to reduce emissions and deal with climate impacts in developing nations.
Climate finance is competing with the urgent relief for Ukrainian refugees and those living in areas under Russian shelling. If the pot of money for overseas development doesn’t grow, there will be less money available for climate finance.
AustralianGovernment welcomes high fossil fuel prices and ships coal to Ukraine
Western countries, especially EU member states, have already revised their budgets to redirect funds for Ukrainian refugees, reduce their dependence upon Russian gas and oil, and increase their military and defense budgets.
In a major policy shift, Germany approved a national defence fund and committed €100 billion ($110bn) in military spending. Denmark has used 11% of its national budget for overseas development aid to support Ukrainian refugees. The Norwegian government has put on hold development aid disbursements including climate finance while they evaluate the possibility of allocating more money to Ukraine.
The US has already fallen behind on its climate finance promises. President Joe Biden committed to provide $11.4bn a year for climate finance in poor and vulnerable nations by 2024 – a considerable increase from levels under his predecessor Donald Trump but still short of the country’s fair share of $45-50bn.
This sounds hollow. Congress approved $1bn for climate finance in 2022, but agreed to $13.6bn for Ukraine aid.
RussiaClimate targets will be stopped by sanctions, claims the government
The rising cost of food is being exacerbated by the war, which has already reached an all-time high in 2022. Russia and Ukraine account roughly 25% of global wheat exports. Disruptions to the wheat trade could cause some countries to experience famine.
A global food shortage will require additional funding from wealthy countries to address it and increase the pressure on already limited aid budgets.
The solution must be for wealthy nations to deliver new and additional climate finance, outside of pots of money earmarked for overseas development assistance – a long-standing demand of developing countries and NGOs.
Even this could be a challenge. With Ukraine as a top priority for US and European leaders, the next round of spending plans and budgets are likely to see investments to address soaring energy prices, the halting of Russian energy imports and a boost for national defense budgets rather than climate action for the world’s poor.
This would make it harder for western countries to fulfill their promises of significant scaling up climate finance and exceeding the 2009 goal to mobilize $100bn per year.
The war in Ukraine has been a terrible experience. Humanitarian support for refugees and a transition away Russian fossil fuels is essential.
The climate crisis is not over. Additional climate finance must be maintained. Because the money is needed urgently to allow mitigation and adaptation in developing nations, and because climate finance forms part of fragile political agreements on global efforts to limit global warming,
Mattias Söderberg is the chief advisor at humanitarian NGO DanChurchAid.
Source: Climate Change News