Beyond Doha: Making progress for children in 2013

Rossie Caipan, 21, holds her one-year-old son, Clifford, in an evacuation centre in Carmen Village, Northern Mindanao Region. Rossie Caipan, 21, holds her one-year-old son, Clifford, in an evacuation centre in Carmen Village, Northern Mindanao Region. Rossie and Clifford were displaced by Tropical Storm Washi that hit the Philippines in December 2011.
© Unicef/NYHQ2011-2134/Maitem

As the dust settles after the Doha climate talks, one of the most contentious issues of the whole talks was the mobilisation of long term climate finance – financial flows from developed countries to developing countries to help them cope with the growing impacts of climate change and embark on a low carbon path to development.

In 2009 at COP 15 in Copenhagen, developed countries agreed to mobilise $30 billion of “fast start” funds for developing countries between 2010 and 2012. Furthermore, they committed to jointly mobilising new and additional climate funds reaching $100 billion a year by 2020. Such funds are essential to ensure there are resources available to help children in vulnerable countries cope with the increasing and  future projected impacts of climate change.

As the “fast start” period is coming to an end at the end of the year, there is understandably nervousness amongst developing countries about projected finance beyond 2012. As the recent typhoon in the Phillippines has shown, the impacts of climate change are growing and with slow progress on agreement on emissions reductions, these impacts of climate change are likely to continue to increase. This means those in the most vulnerable countries are increasingly at risk, and children in such countries are often the most vulnerable.

In Doha, this nervousness came to the fore. Interventions by developing countries during the course of the talks has highlighted their concern at lack of funds beyond 2012 and the slow progress being made to mobilise the $100 billion a year target. Nicaragua and others for example urged developed country governments at Doha that we “cannot have a lost decade on climate finance”.

Some progress was made at Doha. The UK showed welcome international leadership by reaffirming its commitment to long term climate finance last Tuesday, highlighting their intention to dedicate funds beyond 2012 – £1.8 billion of aid money to help vulnerable countries cope with climate change. Secretary of State Ed Davey also reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to the jointly mobilising the $100 billion a year of new and additional funds.

Similar promises were also made from key EU countries too at Doha, showing willingness to continue supporting developing countries in coping with the impacts of climate change, which are the consequence of historical emissions by developed countries.

However, despite this movement, there is much more that needs to be done to put governments on a path to concretely mobilising $100 billion a year of new and additional funds that developing countries urgently need. Whilst some discussion has happened at UN level and G20, much more urgency, political will and agreement needs to occur.

In autumn this year, Unicef UK ran our Speak Up For Children campaign, which asked the UK government to help progress action towards the $100 billion. With the leadership they have shown in Doha, the UK is uniquely placed to push for further and more ambitious global action on these issues in 2013, now the talks in Doha have concluded.

In 2013 governments should agree a timeline for progress towards the $100 billion, showing strong political commitment for action. This timeline should show milestones towards the goal and a process for agreeing innovative finance mechanisms to help ensure that the funds truly are new and additional. In addition, the Green Climate Fund which will channel the bulk of the funds will be constructed – it is important that progress is made on this in 2013 and the fund is built in the best possible way to protect children.

The UK plays an influential role in all these processes and could show strong leadership in helping make such progress in 2013.

Climate Finance has long threatened to destabilise the talks, and as COP 18 in Doha has shown it is of vital importance to developing countries. The president of the UN Negotiations Christiana Figueres has even said that climate finance is the “golden key” that can unlock the negotiations. With urgency and concrete steps on this agenda in 2013, climate finance can also be the ‘golden key’ to unlocking a climate safe future for children.

Jazmin Burgess is Unicef UK’s climate change policy officer.

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