Cop26 leaders set challenge to fund disaster prevention in poor countries

UK and Germany lead push to help prepare for inevitable impact of climate change

World leaders attending the Cop26 summit have been challenged to overhaul aid for developing countries, which experts say face increasingly extreme temperatures and worsening natural disasters.

Britain and Germany backed a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that recommended changes to debt and aid rules to reflect the higher risk of catastrophes.

Amid warnings that it is too late to stop some of the effects of climate change, structural reforms and an increase in technological and other support could be introduced by 2025 in a drive to make a billion people safer from disasters.

A report issued on Monday by the OECD said climate change would “make the future extremely unrecognisable”.

Extreme heat, considered rare in the past, is already becoming the norm in many parts of the world, it said.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the UK’s international trade secretary, appealed to donors and aid agencies in Glasgow to help prevent climate-related disasters such as floods.

She said donors should help to build early warning systems and enable humanitarian agencies to prepare for disasters.

“The risks of loss and damage are growing, and we don’t need further evidence of it. We’ve got plenty of it, sadly,” Ms Trevelyan said. “It is right in front of all of us, wherever we live on our wonderful planet.

“There is much further that we all need to go. As those impacts of climate change grow, it’s imperative that we step up early action.”

The OECD report said donor countries should rethink how to support countries that are not eligible for direct development aid.

Protecting people from the inevitable impacts of climate change is one of Britain’s four priorities for Cop26, along with cutting emissions, raising money and securing international consensus.

The UK wants to take forward a project established at Cop25 in 2019, which brings together experts to help vulnerable countries.

Known as the Santiago Network, it has provided support to countries including Chile, Indonesia, Jamaica and the Philippines.

“Success will require solidarity across and within nations,” said OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann.

“Developed countries need to scale up both financial and technical support to developing countries and make such support more accessible and predictable.”

Funding shortfall

Disaster response is only one of the areas for which developing countries are asking for money from rich nations. They need additional funds to reduce emissions and transform their economies.

A promise by rich nations to organise $100 billion of annual climate funding by 2020 has been pushed back to 2023. Governments say fund-raising from the private sector has been disappointing.

Cop26 negotiators are expected to begin work on agreeing to a more ambitious target when the $100bn promise expires in 2025.

Many developing countries are particularly vulnerable to climate-related disasters such as floods and droughts.

Attributing specific weather events to climate change is an uncertain process, but the consensus is that disasters will be far more likely if global warming is not kept in check.

OECD experts said extreme high temperatures would especially affect tropical oceans and areas in the Middle East and North Africa.

Even in an unusually cool year in the future, hotter temperatures than have ever been experienced in the past will be recorded on some days, the OECD report said.

“Lives, livelihoods, even the social and economic stability of countries and regions are at risk,” it said.

“Future generations will carry the burden for inadequate climate action by current and past generations.”

Updated: November 2nd 2021, 7:21 AM
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