India's G-20 presidency an opportunity to mainstream climate change agenda: Environmentalists
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Kolkata: Environmentalists see India’s G-20 presidency as an opportunity for developing countries to mainstream climate change agenda, particularly climate financing, in view of the decision to establish a ‘loss and damage’ fund during COP 27 last year.

This is especially so, as three major developing countries including India and Indonesia are part of the grouping.

“The first major issue is loss and damage and the second one is how partnership for energy transition can be done”, said Sanjay Vashist, director, Cansa, a coalition of over 300 civil society organisations working in eight south Asian countries.

“All countries are facing the developmental challenge and such loss and damage fund needs to be operationalised. One most important factor is the governance system of such a resource. Since G-20 countries contribute 85 per cent of the global GDP, they can build an understanding of how to replenish loss and damage,” he said.

India assumed the presidency of the G20 on December 1, 2022.

The troika comprises Indonesia, India and Brazil, the first time that three developing and emerging economies are part of the core group of the G-20 bloc.

“They are the ones who decide the agenda. India will be part of the troika when the G-20 presidency moves to Brazil for the next term. So developing countries’ role within the G-20 bloc is paramount important to figure out climate finance and energy transition partnership.

“Most of the green energy technology is with these nations and they need to decide among themselves how investments will be made in emerging countries,” Vashist told PTI on the sidelines of a programme organised at the Kolkata Press Club on Friday.

The event – G20 and Climate Change: National and Regional Perspective – was organised jointly by Cansa and EnGIO, a civil society organisation.

Climate Action Network’s global political strategy head Harjeet Singh said the establishment of loss and damage fund is the “first big step for climate financing but the key is to operationalise the resources and promote resilient development”.

“Here comes the importance of G-20 members, particularly G-7 nations. These countries have to make sure that they are setting right path for development,” Singh told PTI.

Echoing Singh, Observer Research Foundation Director Nilanjan Ghosh said G-20 provides an important platform for global south countries (developing and underdeveloped nations) to place their demand in terms of climate financing.

“The estimation of loss and damage triggered by climate change is extremely important. It is not just an assessment of economic losses like loss of properties, embankments and human livelihoods. Damage of ecosystem services has to be taken into consideration,” Ghosh, also the president of the Indian Society for Ecological Economics, told PTI.

He emphasised on the “need to find the value of loss and damage stream” for the long term.

“Global south nations such as developing and underdeveloped countries can put a right financing mechanism in the summit of nations of G-20 bloc. This is will help developing countries to raise their voices in the global negotiation system,” Ghosh said.

The proposed fund would largely be based on public finance but also innovative sources such as shifting of fossil fuel subsidies, putting levies on financial transactions or air travel, etc should also be explored, Singh said.

“This is where G-7 countries have the largest share. According to an estimate, the finance needed for addressing loss and damage would be between USD 290-580 billion annually by 2030 for developing countries,” he said.

This year is going to be “crucial as there would be negotiations to operationalise the loss and damage fund at the earliest”, he said, adding that unlike “Green Climate Fund which takes time to roll out projects for vulnerable people, we need different arrangements to respond to climate disasters”.

The group of seven developed nations have to “take a leading role” in setting up of the proposed fund and ensure that they “provide their fair share of finance so that the fund is up and running”, he said.

Jadavpur University’s Oceanographic Studies Professor Sugata Hazra said Brazil, a G20 member, was able to bring Amazon rainforest, in spite of its burning episode, in the thrust area of climate change mitigation because of its carbon sequestration potential.

“Similarly, mangroves that we might be losing due to sea level rise and erosion can be a thrust area for climate change mitigation and climate financing process so that the unique biodiversity and tiger habitat is saved. It can be an important Bay of Bengal agenda in bringing mangroves into the focus area during G-20 summit,” Hazra told PTI.

In the last 20 years, 110 sq km of mangrove cover with blue carbon have been lost from the core and buffer area of the national park in Sundarbans, a Unesco heritage site, due to sea level rise and erosion triggered by climate change, he said.

The term “blue carbon” refers to the carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems.

Hazra also wondered why not historical damage such as destroying of mangroves by colonisers can be raised during the summit.

“From the late 18th century to India’s independence in 1947, more than 4,000 sq km of mangrove was cut down and tigers were killed. Why not such damage will be compensated for the regeneration of mangrove,” Hazra added.

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