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World leaders discuss ways to help developing countries avoid climate catastrophe on day two of COP27
SHARM EL-SHEIKH: African and Caribbean leaders demanded more funding and technical support from wealthier countries in the fight against global warming in a series of speeches at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt, or COP27.
Speaking at COP27 in the Red Sea city of Sharm el-Sheikh, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the entire African continent was now experiencing the effects of climate change.
Ramaphosa said Africa should build its adaptive capacity, but also urged multilateral cooperation to achieve sustainability goals.
“Multilateral support is out of reach for the majority of the world’s population due to lending policies and conditionality. We need a clear roadmap to deliver on Glasgow’s decision to double adaptation funding by 2025,” said Ramaphosa, referring to last year’s COP26 summit in Scotland.
At the opening of this year’s conference, participating nations agreed to include the issue of ‘loss and damage’ on the main agenda for the first time ever.
Acknowledging loss and damage would cause cash-rich polluters to pay reparations to poorer states that contribute negligibly to emissions but still face unavoidable climate change damage due to worsening flooding. , droughts and sea level rise.
Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the summit, Adel Al-Jubeir, the Saudi envoy for climate affairs, stressed that the response to climate change must be based on science, not emotion.
“Saudi Arabia has always maintained that discussions about climate change should be based on logic and science, rather than emotion, because we believe there are solutions to these challenges. If we put our minds together, let’s gather our resources and put them to work, I would say that Saudi Arabia’s actions speak for themselves.
Addressing the issue of renewable energy, Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom’s commitment to becoming the world’s largest exporter of green hydrogen demonstrates its commitment to environmental well-being.
“We plan to be the largest exporter of green hydrogen in the world. We want to ensure that we are not only contributing, but effectively contributing to meeting the challenges of global change,” he said.
He added that the launch of the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives are necessary steps taken to support action against climate change.
“Saudi Arabia has taken the lead in mobilizing the region through its Middle East Green Initiative, which is the world’s most ambitious project to combat desertification and plant trees and shrubs to reduce carbon and increase oxygen production”.
Al-Jubeir also said that the Kingdom has launched more than 60 initiatives to address environmental challenges, such as turning waste into energy, greening cities and protecting and preserving 30% of the country’s land for the natural habitat.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East Climate Change Initiative, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said policies to combat global warming must be coordinated with organizations non-governmental.
He said the scientific community played a key role in the initiative, which set it apart from other organisations.
“Despite the primary responsibility of states and governments in this regard, other non-governmental parties should play complementary and supporting roles according to their responsibility and work towards the principles of cooperation and participation,” said El- Sisi.
“What distinguishes the initiative (for) which we meet today from other initiatives and efforts is the science component it encompasses, which is indispensable if we seek to align our efforts on climate change with the best science available. .”
El-Sisi said the region has experienced serious climatic events in recent years, ranging from forest fires to floods and torrential rains, which have resulted in many human and financial losses.
“We have confidence in countries that can undertake this initiative as part of the coordination of policies aimed at climate change,” he said.
“It is a region which, as you know, is one of the regions in the world most affected by the consequences of climate change and its devastating effects at all levels,” he added.
African and Caribbean leaders have nonetheless argued that their countries need urgent financial assistance to tackle climate challenges.
In his speech at COP27, Evariste Ndayishimiye, President of Burundi, said it was vital that African nations received sufficient funding to help accelerate the energy transition.
“Burundi calls on the UN and international financial institutions to create innovative financial mechanisms. These mechanisms should contain green bonds and large-scale financial guarantees,” he said.
Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called for a “radical restructuring of the global financial architecture”.
He added, “No one will win if Africa loses.”
Meanwhile, Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, told delegates that reparations would help the world meet its climate goals.
“Loss and damage should not be viewed through controversial lenses; it should be seen as a decarbonization accelerator,” he said.
“We need to establish a loss and damage response fund here. Adoption of the agenda item is only one step. We look forward to having funds in place by 2024.”
He also added that humanity needs collective action to reduce harmful emissions and criticized fossil fuel companies.
Browne, speaking on behalf of the 39-nation Alliance of Small Island States, also called for a windfall tax on oil companies to compensate developing countries for damage caused by climate change-induced natural disasters.
“It’s time these companies were forced to pay a global COP carbon tax on these profits as a source of loss and damage funding,” Browne said.
“While they’re enjoying it, the planet is burning.”
On Monday, Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, called for a 10% tax on oil companies to finance losses and damages.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East Climate Change Initiative, Abdul Latif Rashid, President of Iraq, said now is the time for climate action.
“I think we have enough information, knowledge (and) technology to solve these problems,” he said, stressing the need for all countries to support an implementation plan and provide solutions.
“It will take time to put in place and secure the necessary funding. There are direct and indirect factors affecting climate, such as population increase, which directly affect climate change,” Rashid said.
“We need to get new systems with new technologies…to limit water waste in the future,” he added.
Nicos Kouyialis, the Cypriot agriculture minister, said the Middle East region has been classified by the scientific community as a global climate change hotspot, adding that coordinated action is needed.
“Action based on sound science is needed to address climate change issues in the Middle East region,” he said.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades agreed, adding: “I have no doubt that we will act urgently, collaborate and coordinate, to ensure a better environment for the future.”
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek prime minister, said energy security remained a major concern. “We discussed with Abdel Fattah El-Sissi energy projects to ensure more efficient energy transfer, not only for use in the region, but for export to the European market,” Mitsotakis said.
Meanwhile, Bisher Al-Khasawneh, Prime Minister of Jordan, highlighted the impacts on the environment, food and people due to climate change.
“They are increasing every day and predicting disaster in the future,” he said. “That’s why we need to launch an initiative to deal with these consequences of climate change.
“Jordan is committed to respecting and taking all measures for comprehensive solutions and ensuring green growth while implementing our national ambitions.”