Innovative ways are needed for the global South to access green climate funds

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) began as the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). It was adopted in New York in 1992 and entered into force on 21st March 1994.
The objectives of the creation of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) included: stabilizing greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere to a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change; to ensure that food production is not threatened, and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

As the world heads to Sharmal Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt for the UNFCCC’s 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) there is a need to re-evaluate whether the three objectives are still on course to their realization by the community of nations, or if the world is back to the drawing board on an issue that brought together the world due to the singular threat of the impacts arising from climate change.

Greenhouse gas emissions have continued to be emitted as the globe continues to produce goods and services needed by the ever-growing global population. The modes of production have continued to rely on energy sources that use fossil fuels to produce the energy needed to run the production systems.

While it is important that demands such as loss and damage get addressed, it is also true that the global South is lagging behind in implementing measures that could help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while working towards adaptation. As the blame game continues, the growing middle class in the global South continues to grow its per capita emission compared to the global North.

While the global North is implementing measures that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the global South lacks the means by which to implement such measures.
The global North began with the basics, for instance, they have a functioning public transport system that is mainly using mass transport for its citizens, which helps to reduce emissions per capita.

The global South with its growing middle class is out to show its level of opulence and is instead putting more cars on the roads. A glaring example is when a family of five drives from one high-end suburb to the family business on the other side of town and ends up in the same packing area of their enterprise.

Remember that this family will have stayed in the traffic emitting greenhouse gasses for not less than two hours, this is repeated in the evening. If the per capita emission by this family were to be tabulated and multiplied by the several families doing the same, then we can probably see where we are missing the point as the global South.

Most countries in the global South are not ensuring the efficiency of their systems of production which end up being the biggest polluters. This can also be seen in the second-hand vehicles that most in the middle class tend to import for use, these are also a major source of pollution that has been done away with by those in the global North.

While the global South is continuously blaming the global North and demanding payments that would then help in dealing with the impacts of climate change, it might not really be of help if the funds are again used in putting in place systems that end up polluting the environment and increasing the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
The sources of energy in the global South are major emitters, for instance, when a country is unable to provide a reliable and sustainable electricity supply, the fallback is always to go for the thermal generation of electricity that uses fossil fuels to produce electricity.

This mostly occurs during the drought when the hydro-electricity power generation is low due to drought, the irony of it all is that, drought is one of the impacts of climate change caused by global warming that has resulted in high concentrations of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, but it is the same fossil fuels that will be used to generate electricity during drought.

While we continue to blame the North for having contributed the highest amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, we need to look at what they have been doing to try and mitigate the situation and whether the global South is also learning from the global North on how not to do it.

While the North has come up with a working public transport sector in which mass transport is encouraged, the South has been undergoing the reverse in which the growth of the middle class has seen an increase in wealth
The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is one of the flexible mechanisms set out in the Kyoto Protocol to assist developing countries to achieve sustainable development whilst those from the developed world attain their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction quotas.

This was not well inculcated in the global South as some of the obsolete technology that was being retired in the global North was refurbished and shipped to the global South, in effect the global South redoubled its emissions.

Clean Development Mechanism allowed countries with emission reduction targets to partly meet their commitment by buying Certified Emission Reduction (CER) from projects that reduced or avoided emissions that are found in developing countries. A CER is equivalent to one tone of carbon dioxide. This was an effective way that the developing countries in the global South would have taken advantage of and worked out on projects that were either storing carbon or not emitting carbon meaning that they could then offset the carbon being emitted by countries in the global North.

So the tabulation of the CER could then be converted into payments and make the projects more sustainable so that countries in the global North pay for projects in the global South that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing Certified Emission Reduction which is equivalent to one ton of carbon dioxide.

A broad range of projects are eligible for CDM accreditation, they include; hydropower, solar and wind energy projects; those production systems that have switched from fuel to other industrial efficiencies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions what is now seen as building back better.

While most are whining about having emitted fewer greenhouse gasses yet suffering more, it should be known that countries in the South are not doing enough to tap into green funds that are available, and example is the United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (or UN-REDD Programme) which is a collaborative programme of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The main aim of REDD is to reduce emissions and enhance carbon stocks in forests while contributing to national sustainable development. REDD was established in 2008 in response to the UNFCCC decisions on the Bali Action Plan.
Under the REDD arrangement, there is also REDD+ which is a voluntary climate change mitigation approach that has been developed by Parties to the UNFCCC and is mostly run by the private sector and corporates.

The REDD+ involves the provision of incentives in order to entice communities to change the way forest resources are used in effect offering a way through which to curb carbon dioxide emissions while preventing forest loss or degradation. The incentives are provided through carbon trading which is a way of paying for forest resources. Such are some of the innovative ways in which green climate financing can be accessed.

It involves payments to developing countries to help prevent deforestation or degradation that would otherwise have taken place so as to provide energy sources for poor households or access to land for farming or settlement, in essence, it makes indiscriminate unenforced logging, less profitable than the sustainable alternative which allows communities to earn from forests more than when they were to sell logs of wood.
Use of the Carbon Market, which is a trading system through which countries may buy or sell units of greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to meet their national limits on emissions either under the Kyoto Protocol or other agreements could aid the countries in the global South to access green financing.

Carbon trading is essentially a system through which industrialized countries offset their own emissions by transferring funds as carbon credits to developing countries. This is an opportunity for the global South to make use of when demanding loss and damage. Yes, the South contributed less in terms of greenhouse gases but these claims do not mean much if we cannot effectively use opportunities such as carbon trading to help in the mitigation measures towards realising what was envisaged in the Paris Agreement.

The competition about who is emitting more is not helpful considering that we are nearing the tipping point and we need to step back and begin to work towards how to reduce the emissions.

Judith Akolo is a Development Journalist with the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation and is also a Masters of Climate Change and Adaptation student at the University of Nairobi.


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