The big question at COP26 is how to help vulnerable countries cope with climate change

Our planet is changing. So is our journalism. This story is part of a CBC News initiative entitled Our Changing Planet to show and explain the effects of climate change and what is being done about it.

Governments will push for agreement on Monday on how to help vulnerable countries deal with global warming and compensate them for damage already done, a test of whether developing and rich nations can end a standoff over cash for climate change.

At the start of the second and final week of the UN climate talks in Glasgow, ministers get down to the nitty-gritty of trying to honour promises to pay for climate-linked losses and damages, after a decade of wrangling, and addressing how best to help nations adapt to the effects of climate change.

Tuvalu’s foreign minister, Simon Kofe, offered a graphic demonstration of how rising sea levels affect his small island nation — delivering his recorded speech to the conference dressed in a suit and tie while standing knee-deep in seawater.

“The statement juxtaposes the COP26 setting with the real-life situations faced in Tuvalu due to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise,” said Kofe, standing at a lectern on the shores of the Pacific island.

Tuvalu’s Minister for Justice, Communication & Foreign Affairs Simon Kofe gives a COP26 statement while standing in the ocean in Funafuti in Tuvalu. (Tuvalu’s Ministry of Justice, Communication and Foreign Affairs)

The Conference of Parties (COP), as it’s known, meets every year and is the global decision-making body set up in the early 1990s to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and subsequent climate agreements.

Britain, which is hosting the COP26 meeting, attempted to set the pace by announcing £290 million pounds (roughly $486.9 million Cdn) in new funding, including support for countries in the Asia Pacific to deal with the impact of global warming.

It says the money is in addition to the “billions in additional international funding” already committed by rich countries such as Denmark, Japan and the United States for adaptation and resilience in vulnerable nations, many of which have experienced the worst effects of climate change.

“We must act now to stop climate change from pushing more people into poverty. We know that climate impacts disproportionately affect those already most vulnerable,” said Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who was appointed by the British government to focus on adaptation and resilience.

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While developing countries want more money to help them adapt to higher temperatures that have caused more frequent droughts, floods and wildfires, developed nations have been focused on channeling finance toward cutting emissions.

The cost of both is huge.

The expected economic cost of loss and damage by 2030 has been put at between $400 billion US and $580 billion US a year in developing countries, and up to $1.8 trillion by 2050, the Heinrich Boll Foundation said, citing academic studies.

5 days left

The figures will be even higher unless the Glasgow talks can keep alive the possibility of capping global warming at 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels — the limit beyond which the world risks devastating climate impacts. 

Richer nations need to show they can make good on the many pledges they delivered in the first week of the talks, which are scheduled to finish on Friday.

Developing countries are wary. At a UN climate summit 12 years ago in Copenhagen, rich nations promised to hand developing countries $100 billion a year by 2020 to help them adapt to climate change.

The target was missed and at COP26, richer nations have said they will meet the goal in 2023 at the latest, with some hoping it could be delivered a year earlier.

Potentially more problematic for rich nations is how they should compensate less-developed countries for loss and damages caused by historic emissions, an area where concrete pledges have yet to be made.

Emily Bohobo N’Dombaxe Dola, facilitator of the Adaptation Working Group of the official youth constituency to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said she was drawn to action after seeing how climate change has affected Senegal.

“Now it is time for governments and donors to level up on equitable finance and plans for loss and damage and for adaptation,” she said in a statement.

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Written by bourbiza

bourbiza is an entertainment reporter for iltuoiphone News and is based in Los Angeles.

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