Climate Change Conference in Egypt advanced goals of least developed countries
Finland’s Ambassador for Climate Change Jan Wahlberg says that while the Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt has been criticised for its weak results, progress was nevertheless made to help the world’s poorest countries stricken by climate disasters. Future conferences of the parties will decide on the structure of the fund and its sources of finance.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Egypt. What is the significance of the location?
Climate change is a harsh reality, especially in Africa. We should bear in mind that Africa did not cause climate change, although it is worst hit by its adverse effects at the moment.
Emissions from the African continent account for only about four per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, extreme weather conditions affect the everyday lives of people in many African countries through severe drought and extreme weather events.
In addition to climate change mitigation and phasing out of greenhouse gas emissions, we sorely need adaptation, too.
The conference in Sharm el-Sheikh was mostly an African ‘adaptation COP’. A key outcome of the COP27 was the agreement to establish a loss and damage fund to help countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
Developing countries have been advocating for a loss and damage fund for decades. The fund was high on the agenda of the host country Egypt, too. The African countries want the fund to be based on public donations with no repayment obligation. This would help the countries from becoming even more burdened with debts on top of the challenges created by the weaker food security following the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is important for Finland and for the EU that emerging economies, such as China, participate in financing the loss and damage fund.
What Finland plans to do to ensure adaptation finance for developing countries?
At last year’s Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, developed countries pledged to double their public finance for climate adaptation by developing countries by 2025.
To this end, a Champions Group on Adaptation Finance was founded, and Finland has been actively involved in the group together with other frontrunner countries. The group wants to double adaptation finance and improve its effectiveness.
Finland has significantly increased its international climate finance in recent years. In 2021, Finland’s contribution amounted to EUR 175 million.
Finland is contributing to adaptation finance through multilateral environmental and climate funds, bilateral development cooperation and institutional cooperation.
Finland’s focus in adaptation finance has been on meteorological and weather forecast services, where we have a high level of expertise. The capacity to observe weather is important for developing countries so that they can prepare for extreme weather events such as heavy rains and floods.
What is your assessment of the COP27 outcomes?
We knew beforehand that a loss and damage fund would be one of the trickiest issues on the agenda that would eclipse the EU’s proposal for a more ambitious target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The EU and likeminded countries had to put all their persuasion skills to work to get the Conference to even reaffirm its commitment to limiting the global increase in temperatures to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The work continues, and it is clear that Finland has what it takes to set an example and show others that ambitious climate measures are important.
As Finland’s Ambassador for Climate Change, I consider it important that COP talks advocate even for better inclusion and for preventing further loss of biodiversity.
Finland is part of a coalition of likeminded countries advocating for a global forest agenda. They met at the COP27 to discuss a roadmap for halting biodiversity loss.