The ambassador of Pakistan to South Korea and lead negotiator for the G77 and China group (G-77), Nabeel Munir, tells CarbonCopy what the implementation theme at this year’s COP means for developing countries.
There is less than a week to go for the annual Conference of Parties (COP27) to kick off at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The Egyptian Presidency of the conference this year has on more than one occasion stressed on this year’s theme of implementation—a reference to the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement.
In this context, implementation of climate action in developing countries is closely tied to the availability of resources, including dependence, to an extent, on resources that are made available to poorer countries by richer ones. Article 4.7 of the UNFCCC says, “The extent to which developing country Parties will effectively implement their commitments under the Convention will depend on the effective implementation by developed country Parties of their commitments under the Convention related to financial resources and transfer of technology…” The Paris Agreement, too, recognises the importance of support for developing countries in taking climate action.
CarbonCopy spoke to Nabeel Munir, ambassador of Pakistan to South Korea and lead negotiator for the G77 and China group (G-77) to understand what exactly the implementation theme means for developing countries. G-77 is the largest intergovernmental organisation of developing countries to the United Nations (UN). The group consists of 134 countries, including India, China, Brazil, Egypt, Pakistan and South Africa. Currently, Pakistan holds the G-77 chairmanship.
What are the core agenda items the G-77 will be focussing on COP27? Could you also elaborate on why the group is pushing for each of these?
The first one is loss and damage. At Glasgow, we pushed for the Loss and Damage Finance Facility but it didn’t succeed. Then at the meeting of subsidiary bodies at Bonn also there was no agreement on it. At Sharm El-Sheikh, there is a formal request from the G-77 to put loss and damage on the COP agenda. We hope to develop a facility that can actually finance loss and damage. The second one is finance because all implementation is linked to means and finance is the biggest means. Then there’s the Global Goal on Adaptation. There was a commitment at COP26 to double adaptation finance and this hasn’t happened. And finally, the operationalisation of the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage. Even though the network is only about capacity building and technical support, it is still extremely important for the G-77 because if there is going to be a finance facility on loss and damage, the G-77 member states would also need capacity building and technical support to be able to identify where and how the finance would be used.
Note: Earlier in September, at the annual UN meeting of ministers of foregin affairs of the G-77, too, there was a focus on implementation of the Paris Agreement, alongside other international commitments like the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in their “totality” and in line with principles of “multilateralism and international cooperation.” The cornerstone of effective implementation though, the ministers stressed, is finance. Emphasising finance for adaptation and loss and damage and the failure to meet the $100 billion goal, the ministers said “all developed countries should communicate their mandatory climate finance projections by COP27 covering pledges for the next 1 to 2 years…”
There have been multiple news reports stating that the Egypt presidency aims to make this COP one that is focused on implementation. What goals would you classify as ready for a greater implementation push?
The decision by the Egypt Presidency to focus on implementation is very welcome. Implementation is not possible without the means, which include finance, technology transfer, capacity building and technical support. We need all of these to implement decisions that have already been taken. Many Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of developing countries are already very ambitious, like Pakistan’s. But to implement these NDCs, means are required and this is what we hope the COP will focus on.
Quick comment: COP22 at Morocco was also an “implementation COP”. The focus was to bring about implementation of the Paris Agreement. A major outcome of COP23 under the Fiji Presidency was ‘Fiji Momentum for Implementation’. Both Morocco and Fiji are members of the G-77. When members of the G-77, or developing countries in general host a COP, implementation draws focus because means of implementation are extremely important.
Speaking purely as a climate negotiator from Pakistan, do you think the fact that the country was hit very badly by climate-driven flooding will push the loss and damage agenda?
What happened in Pakistan was a catastrophe of unmitigated proportions. Over 1,700 dead and 3 million impacted and loss and damage of about $30-40 billion. So for us, loss and damage is an extremely important issue. Like how Haiyan kickstarted the Santiago Network, if the disaster in Pakistan does the same thing for financing the loss and damage facility, it will be a very good thing.
Are there expectations that the Egypt presidency will be particularly empathetic to the plight of developing countries? Are negotiation tactics of the G-77 different from those employed at COP26?
Presidencies are generally supposed to be neutral. We would expect the Egypt Presidency, despite being a member of the G-77, to be neutral because they have a greater role to play… that of a bridge builder. We are confident of their leadership in this role to bring a win-win situation for everyone.
Considering that many countries are still reeling under high inflation brought on by both the pandemic and the ongoing energy crisis, is the G77 considering any new ways to push to finalise long-pending decisions on climate finance? Or including demands like debt-relief?
It’s a quadruple whammy of climate change disasters, COVID-19, high fuel prices and food insecurity. And it impacts developing countries the most. So for us, financing is most important. Discussions are already ongoing on what shape this financing takes and I don’t think it’s right for me to indulge in it. But yes, I’ll say that for us, financing is most important.
Long-term finance has long been a sticky issue with little agreement. Are there any specific demands on it that the G77 will put forward at the COP27?
The commitment by developed countries to provide $100 billion each year by 2020 is still unmet and it’s almost 2023 now. The recent Oxfam report on climate finance shows not only that the goal has not been met, but also that there is double counting and other greenwashing in the numbers that some developed countries provide. There have been general discussions on a New Collective Quantified Goal, but discussions haven’t even begun on the quantum of this goal. This is also a very important issue for us, that we start discussions on the quantum of financing that developing countries need and this can then become the long-term finance goal.
There is a perception that focusing on loss and damage would imply compromises on adaptation negotiations. Do you feel this is true? How can developing nations ensure that they can balance adaptation needs with demands on loss and damage?
The G-77 has been pushing for loss and damage for some time and we have been very clear that the financing should be additional. We believe it is key to maintain a balance between different segments of finance because adaptation finance is equally important. And developed countries who agreed to a doubling of adaptation finance haven’t delivered it either. So we don’t see it as an ‘either or situation’. Also, loss and damage and adaptation are complementary because if you adapt better, the need for loss and damage will be reduced.