Climate finance: rich countries fail to meet aid targets …


(MENAFN- The Conversation) The climate crisis is already wreaking havoc in some developing countries, causing damage to crops and infrastructure and the loss of homes and communities. Sea level around Papua New Guinea, an island nation in the southwest Pacific, has risen 7mm per year since 1993, more than double the global average.

On the Carteret Islands, an atoll in the west, half of the islanders have moved. They had to sever ties with ancestral lands where families are buried, where traditional ways of life have endured for generations and where there is a particular way of participating in collective and democratic life.

At COP26, the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow in November, countries will discuss the potential of new sources of monetary assistance called climate finance, some of which will help countries cope with such loss and damage. Despite pledging in 2009 to raise US $ 100 billion (£ 73.8 billion) a year in climate finance by 2020, rich countries have failed to meet that target.

On top of that, 80% of their contributions are loans or other forms of private funding instead of grants. This threatens to accumulate more debt for countries already grappling with the financial burden of the pandemic.

Delegates from Papua New Guinea and other poorer countries are meeting through the Least Developed Countries Group and the Climate Vulnerable Forum, and will arrive at COP26 in hopes of a breakthrough. But frustrated with the UN negotiations, communities around the world are finding new ways to make companies and states pay – by taking them to court.

As climate finance negotiations collapsed at the last UN summit in 2019, the Philippine National Human Rights Commission released the findings of its four-year investigation into the impacts of climate change on human rights. man in the country. The commission concluded that 47 large emitting companies could be held responsible for human rights violations resulting from climate change. He also claimed that companies that obstructed evidence or deceived the public about the link between emissions and climate change could be held accountable under criminal laws.

The likelihood of any of these companies or states paying damages will depend on the response of the courts. The commission, like many human rights executives around the world, does not have binding enforcement powers.

But the higher regional court in Hamm in Germany does not. This is where we hear the case of Peruvian farmer Saul Luciana Lluyia. Lluyia takes legal action against the German energy company RWE. His lawsuit alleges that RWE knowingly contributed to climate change by emitting greenhouse gases, and therefore bears some responsibility for the melting of mountain glaciers that threaten his farm and his hometown of Huaraz in northern Peru, including its 120,000 inhabitants.

Huaraz, Peru, with the Cordillera Blanca mountain range in the background. Bryan Toro / Alamy Stock Photo

The pandemic has delayed the collection of evidence in Huaraz, but a legal argument supporting Lliuya’s claim characterizes RWE’s broadcasts as a nuisance for which he should be compensated. The German court can apply penalties in nuisance cases. As scientific analysis of emission attribution improves, allowing individual entities like private companies to be more precisely linked to climate impacts, cases like Lliuya’s could increase.

In the past two years alone, there have been several landmark cases that have ruled against states and companies accused of not doing enough to decarbonize. The Dutch non-profit association Urgenda has forced the Dutch government to cut emissions in line with its legal obligations after winning its case in the country’s Supreme Court.

On May 26, 2021, another Dutch case involving more than 17,000 individual claimants ended with The Hague District Court ordering Shell, the oil and gas company, to cut CO₂ emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels.

The outcome of these two cases would reduce the future scale of loss and damage, rather than compensating victims today. But they show that courts can be persuaded to compel states and businesses to honor their public duty of care in light of climate change. This could secure contributions to flood defenses or to the post-storm reconstruction process.

And if national courts start to find that the companies that have contributed disproportionately to the crisis have a responsibility to fix them, it could even encourage states to strike political deals to meet funding needs in countries that are in crisis. first line of climate impacts.

This story is part of The Conversation’s coverage of COP26, the Glasgow climate conference, by experts around the world.
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