REUTERS IMPACT Can COP26 help the poorest countries save the world?

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A person walks near a China Energy coal-fired power plant in Shenyang, Liaoning province, China, September 29, 2021. REUTERS / Tingshu Wang

  • Emerging economies big on issues, short of investments
  • Huge sums are needed to help them overtake fossil fuels
  • The energy transition risks dividing, not including

October 5 (Reuters) – World climate conference COP26 will miss its goal of weaning the world off fossil fuels unless developing economies heavily dependent on coal receive the help they need to adapt, said policymakers at a Reuters climate conference on Tuesday.

Usha Rao-Monari, associate administrator of the United Nations Development Program, said less than a fifth of global investment in clean energy is currently going to help the poorest two-thirds of the world’s population. Read more

She said greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in the industrial world have fallen by 20% since 2012, but coal, one of the dirtiest fuels, still accounts for 44% of electricity consumption. in emerging economies, where emissions in turn jumped 20%.

Rao-Monari said that of the roughly $ 90 trillion that was to be spent on infrastructure to help the world meet the 2030 emissions targets, two-thirds should go to emerging countries – in many cases to keep them from falling. lock in conspicuously cheaper long-term investments. , like polluting coal-fired power stations.

Makhtar Diop, managing director of the World Bank’s investment arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), said she and other multilateral lenders are working to make green investments in emerging economies “bankable”.

This involved developing innovative financial structures to “de-risk” green projects for private sector investors.

“I think that in the future all activities related to climate change will be seen as much less risky than in the past,” he said.

Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, said it was essential for the financial sector to start thinking longer-term to support the transition from fossil fuels, and for a global carbon market to grow. taking into account the full impact of emissions would be helpful.

“Carbon is way too cheap right now, it’s ridiculous,” she said.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE

Francesco Starace, managing director of Europe’s largest utility company, Italian Enel (ENEI.MI), said the transition from fossil fuels must include ensuring that all people on Earth have access to electricity – and that meant clean, affordable and renewable electricity.

The 800 million people who do not have access to affordable energy “will not care about the climate” if their need for electricity continues to be an existential issue for their well-being, he said.

Spain’s Energy and Environment Minister Teresa Ribera said she hoped COP26 would strengthen the rich world’s commitment to spending $ 100 billion a year on energy transition in emerging countries, and would also ensure that it is spent on climate-friendly projects.

The rich countries first committed to the figure of 100 billion dollars at the COP16 in 2009, but the deadline for 2020 passed without the goal ever being reached.

Ribera also called for action on the issue of “loss and damage” – the demand of the poorest countries for an agreed basis to assess liability and compensation for climate damage, largely by the rich world. and industrialized.

“At the Glasgow conference, adaptation and loss and damage, in my opinion, will be the key step in how credible we are in terms of this kind of solidarity and credible solutions,” she said. .

IFC’s Diop also said that providing sufficient resources, collectively, to the countries most in need of adaptation due to desertification or coastal erosion was one of the greatest challenges facing communities. decision-makers at COP26.

Ahead of the talks, which begin in Glasgow, Scotland on October 31, business leaders and global politicians are attending the Reuters Impact conference to discuss efforts to mitigate climate change and spur sustainable growth.

For Enel’s Starace, who spent years turning the utility into a green powerhouse, one of the key questions for COP26 and beyond was whether the inevitable transition from fossil fuels would be turbulent or orderly – and therefore also inclusive.

“Transitions are generally not inclusive, they divide,” he said.

To watch the Reuters Impact conference, please register here

Reporting by Isla Binnie, Tom Arnold, Stephen Jewkes, Jon Harman, Simon Jessop and Andrea Januta; Written by Kevin Liffey; Editing by David Clarke

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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