A new report from the World Resources Institute (WRI) on equity and finance says by focusing on the capabilities of countries and communities, there can be progress on the equity concerns that have impeded climate negotiations for decades. The report Building Climate Equity, draws on 30 real-world examples from developing and developed countries that demonstrate how this “capabilities approach” can achieve ambitious low-carbon and adaptation goals.
According to David Wascow, who authored the report, climate actions in reducing emissions are not done in an equitable manner. Mr Wascow, Director, International Climate Initiative, World Resources Institute, told The Hindu that there were two pillars in equity, one was deciding the capabilities according to certain criteria and the second was taking adequate action to reduce impacts in an equitable way.
Looking at climate policies and interweaving climate action and equity is gaining importance. For instance Indonesia shifted from fossil fuels and focused on renewable energy, he said. India too has had success in distributed renewable energy provided to communities off the grid. But sometimes adaptation actions can have adverse impacts if they are not thought out properly. For instance where you start to shift fossil fuel subsidy there could be an impact on consumers and some policy and consumer impact funds are needed to support that transition.
When you look at equity issues, he said the question is not a matter of how much but how are you going to go about it. In the question of impacts which veers towards national loss and damage issues, something concrete needs to be done in terms of assessing how climate change will impact communities. He called for a scoping of loss and damage and determining physical impacts in a social and economic context.
All these aspects could be highlighted in the text for the Paris agreement, he said. There can be various indicators for finance and equity, who can provide finance in terms of countries capabilities, how is the finance directed, is it aimed addressing equity and capability issues, how can they affect transition, climate benefits and equity benefits. The new draft agreement could have a set of recommendations which, for instance can help guide finances and make sure it is linked to the equity question on the ground and not in a vacuum.
“We are proposing that countries in their proposed national actions should look hard at equity questions and also we feel there should be a real review of the contributions. Countries should answer how ambitious and equitable their targets are,” he said. “It shouldn't be left to countries purely to decide their own national determinations, we need a process to have a real review and discussion even with civil society here, to decide their national contributions. We do need frameworks to assess what countries can and should do and an assessment process to see how these factors like mitigation etc play out,” he added.
An earlier study by WRI on Fast Start Finance could also have some pointers on the operationalizing of the Green Climate Fund. Taryn Fransen who conducted a study in 2011 to shed light on climate finance, looked at what are the programs that developed countries reported as climate finance. The study put together 4000 data sets from fast start finance reports and found that countries were taking different approaches. The fast start finance created an incentive to mobilise the funding process and make things work, Ms Fransen said.
Based on that, the Green Climate Fund needs to carefully target the funds effectively and in ways that are transformative. The GCF can benefit from the lessons of this fast start finance and it needs a robust system of transparency and accountability.