Supporting Developing Countries in Climate Change

Photos by Lucia

Pressure is growing on rich countries to set out exactly how they will deliver a promised $100 billion a year in funding to help poorer nations tackle climate change. The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres urged G7 countries to step up before the November COP26 with commitments of fresh finance for the coming five years, and called for a plan to be published. This goal had been promised a decade ago and was to start in 2020. At a summit hosted by Bangladesh, finance ministers from a group of developing economies particularly vulnerable to climate impacts, known as the V20, urged wealthy governments to outline “how and when” they will meet the pledge between now and 2024.

The latest figures from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development show that in 2018 about $80 billion was delivered, while a UN-commissioned report said in December it was unlikely the $100-billion goal had been met in 2020 amid the economic woes of the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, funding to boost resilience is hovering at only about a fifth of total climate finance for developing nations.

But the most vulnerable countries with lower emissions need financial and technical support to invest in renewable energy and tackle climate-induced disasters, said UN chief Guterres. Alok Sharma, the British official who will preside over the COP26 UN climate talks this November, wrote in a commentary for the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the world needed a “big push” on climate finance ahead of those negotiations. “It is essential for helping developing countries on a path to a clean, green future. With support, these countries can leapfrog polluting technologies as their economies develop, and protect themselves from climate change,” he wrote.

Photo by Lucia

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who opened the V20 summit, said that while the 48 member countries of the Climate Vulnerable Forum accounted for only 5 per cent of global emissions, they were the “worst victims” of the man made climate crisis. The demand for rich nations to meet their finance pledge was echoed by the presidents of Ethiopia, Colombia, Costa Rica and the Marshall Islands. Latin American leaders also requested a far higher proportion be given as grants rather than loans.

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said it was “imperative” the $100-billion pledge be met by COP26. “And the promise going forward is that we’re going to do what we need to do to bring larger amounts of finance to the table,” including from banks and other investors, he added.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, a pledge was made that a higher amount would kick in starting from 2025. The V20 launched its own “Vision 2025” plan which aims to deploy more renewable energy, foster low carbon investment, expand insurance against extreme weather and create green jobs.

Why Canada Needs To Think About Accepting Climate Change Refugees

Photo by Lucia

CBC What on Earth May 21, 2021 by Jennifer Van Evra

As countries around the world wrestle with the growing impacts of global warming — including fires, droughts and rising sea levels — there’s one that critics say Canada is failing to properly consider: climate change refugees. According to a 2018 World Bank report, by 2050, the planet could see 143 million people become migrants escaping extreme weather, crop failure, water scarcity and other climate-related harms.

An upcoming report from the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) is calling on the federal government to be better prepared for these shifting migration patterns. Canada doesn’t recognize climate migrants, says Warda Shazadi Meighen, an immigration and refugee lawyer who co-authored the report. 

“There’s nothing in the policy that requires immigration officers to specifically turn their mind to the plight of climate migrants,” she said. That means any person fleeing the effects of climate change would need to seek refugee status for persecution, based on allowed grounds such as race, religion, nationality or political opinion.

In January 2020, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Canada called on the federal government to examine its own laws and policies when it comes to refugees, migrants and climate change. The new CARL report offers several suggestions to address this. For example, it recommends employing the same kind of approach that was used following disasters such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, allowing people to apply for permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

The report also suggests Canada use its much-lauded sponsorship program, which allowed Canadians to sponsor refugees fleeing war in Syria. In a statement to What on Earth, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said it constantly monitors the implications of climate change on migration, and remains steadfast in offering protection to refugees fleeing persecution. It also says that, in the event of natural disasters, decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and can include expediting refugee applications and extending temporary resident visas for those already in Canada.

Shazadi Meighen argues that Canada could implement some climate migrant measures quickly because they don’t necessarily require new legislation, and because climate risk is scientifically quantifiable, it would also be easy for authorities to evaluate the migrants’ claims. What’s more, she says Canadians would likely back the approach. 

David Boyd, the B.C.-based UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, has travelled to many regions where climate change is already displacing people. One of them is Fiji, where people were rendered homeless by tropical cyclone Winston in 2016 , one of the strongest ever recorded. Boyd is calling on his home country to do more. 

Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, there are three central humanitarian obligations:

  • mitigate climate change by reducing emissions; 
  • help adaptation efforts by reducing climate-related risks; 
  • address loss and damage where it occurs. 

Other international agreements require Canada to help countries in the global south to improve living conditions so there’s less impetus for migration, said Boyd, who is also an associate professor of law, policy and sustainability at the University of British Columbia. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.