CARE: Five demands for climate justice to COP26 (if it had taken place in 2020)

by 09th Nov 2020
CARE: Five demands for climate justice to COP26 (if it had taken place in 2020)

This year’s international climate change negotiations (UNFCCC COP26) were scheduled to begin on 9 November 2020, in Glasgow, UK. Five years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, this year’s negotiations were slated to be a moment of reaffirmation and ambition-raising under the global climate policy regime. The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated the postponement of the negotiations to November 2021. As the world grapples with a pandemic that, in a few short months, has provided a glimpse into the systems-level and often permanent disruptions scientists predict to result from climate change, it is critical that climate action not be allowed to come to a standstill.

COVID-19 must not be taken as an excuse by governments to delay action. As the impacts of climate change grow increasingly severe – with a record-breaking storm season in the Atlantic, a record cyclone Goni hitting the Philippines, major floods in many countries – climate policies continue to lag far behind what is needed to prevent catastrophic global temperature increases, and to allow affected populations in vulnerable developing countries to adapt and recover.

In an effort to keep the key issues and expectations that would have framed the COP26 in focus, this blog outlines key priorities for all governments to heed as they prepare to announce enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and renewed international climate finance packages, with a view toward ensuring COP26 can be celebrated as a milestone in the realisation of gender-just climate action and justice for the world’s most affected populations.

1. Advance women’s leadership and implement Gender Action Plan

Countries show swift progress in implementing the Gender Action Plan approved at COP25 and strengthen gender equality within climate finance

At COP25 in December 2019, all Parties agreed on a strengthened Enhanced Lima Work Programme on Gender and its Gender Action Plan. CARE calls on all countries to strengthen efforts to implement the plan, by promoting women’s and girls’ leadership in climate action and climate diplomacy, undertaking targeted capacity building work and by tackling structural barriers which women and girls face in playing leadership roles. This includes greater attention to gender equality within climate finance, urging contributors and recipient countries alike to envisage to have, by 2023, 85% of climate finance to at least pursue gender equality as a significant objective and to explore all possibilities to increase the involvement and access of local organisations, in particular women’s organisations and supporters of gender equality.

2. Building forward

Countries need to build forward from the COVID-19 crisis in a way which boosts climate and crisis resilience, and accelerates the shift towards phasing out fossil fuels and subsidies

Pandemic recovery plans provide an opportunity to mitigate the combined adverse effects of COVID-19 and the climate crisis, while building forward in a way that increases the resilience of women, girls and vulnerable communities to climate and pandemic-related shocks and stresses. Recovery strategies should harness synergies between recovery and green climate mitigation measures by focusing on renewable energies, ecosystem protection, climate-resilient agriculture and climate adaptation in a gender-transformative way and at a scale consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C, resilience and finance goals. Recovery strategies need to be long-term and in coherence of national adaptation processes and needs. Towards community resilience, there is a need to develop an integrated approach to include all kind of vulnerabilities and address systemic risks. Climate and ODA finance commitments need to be delivered on in a way that avoids the diversion of one type of finance towards the other, and fossil fuel subsidies be shifted.

3. 1.5°C compatible NDCS

A large majority of countries, including all G20 countries, must submit, in 2020, new national climate action plans (NDCs) which close the emissions gap for 1.5°C pathways and advance climate resilience in a gender-transformative way

As of October 2020, no G20 country has submitted an improved Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement and, overall, only 16 countries out of 194 have published new ones. Positive announcements from important countries like China, Japan, South Korea (with climate neutrality targets) and the EU (likely to agree a new 2030 reduction target in mid-December 2020) must result in NDCs in 2020. Cumulatively, these must make strides towards closing the 1.5°C gap, while advancing climate resilience in a gender-transformative way.

4. Increase climate finance

Developed countries need to make new pledges for grant-based climate finance beyond 2020, in particular for gender-transformative adaptation

Whether the Roadmap to US$100 billion international climate finance will be met by its 2020 deadline remains uncertain. The recent 2020 Climate Finance Shadow Report released by Oxfam estimates that there has been a significant increase in adaptation finance, but at only about 25% of total climate finance, the sum remains a far cry from the 50% of international climate finance to adaptation that is needed today more than ever. Whereas grant-based finance has remained stable, concessional loans have significantly increased. However, it is also the time to look beyond 2020, and CARE urges developed countries to continue increasing finance in particular for adaptation. While there may not be space for an aggregate negotiated finance goal above the US$100 billion, developed countries should individually pledge increases, like the UK did in 2019, announcing to double climate finance in the period 2021-25 compared to previous levels.

5. New finance for loss and damage

Under the Loss and Damage Mechanism, developed countries need to stop their resistance to exploring new and innovative sources for generating US$50bn in additional finance by 2022

The Paris Agreement also promises to strengthen the UNFCCC Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage, which aims to support developing countries in tackling the unavoidable impacts of the climate crisis. There is almost no dedicated funding yet available to address loss and damage. The newly established expert group on Action and Support under the UNFCCC Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage, initiated through COP25, now needs to start exploring new sources of finance in the order of US$50bn by 2022 to address loss and damage once it has commenced its work, in a way which does not divert funding from other ODA and climate finance commitments. In particular this should support local and gender justice organisations in developing countries (CARE’s COP25 position paper contains more details on potential sources of finance).

Sven Harmeling

Sven Harmeling has worked with CARE International since 2013 as Global Policy Lead, Climate Change and Resilience. In that function he leads and coordinates CARE’s international climate policy work, and provides advice to CARE offices both in developed and developing countries. He has been active in the international climate policy space for about 15 years, with particular experience in issues around adaptation, loss and damage, and climate finance.

Sven holds a diploma in geography, environmental economics and political sciences from the University of Bonn, Germany. Before joining CARE, he served as Team Leader International Climate Policy with Germanwatch. He is also a voluntary member of the board of directors of CAN International, CAN Europe and Germanwatch.