Developing countries urge more climate funding at pre-COP27 in DR Congo
Developing countries have driven home the message that they require more funding to fight climate change at the pre-COP27 talks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which are due to end Tuesday.
Access to funds to adapt to a warming planet, as well as compensation for damages caused by climate change, dominated the informal talks in the Congolese capital Kinshasa.
A closing ceremony takes place on Tuesday evening, with no formal announcements expected.
However, the pre-COP27 is viewed as an important opportunity to solidify positions ahead of next month’s COP27 climate summit in Egypt.
“From the point of view of climate diplomacy, this is a success,” said a senior Congolese government official, who requested anonymity.
From the outset, the DRC set the tone for the talks, arguing that poor countries required smoother access to finance as well as a way to balance environmental protection with boosting economic growth.
Congolese Environment Minister Eve Bazaiba told delegates on Monday that Africa faced a dilemma between exploiting its resources and going hungry.
“What should we do in this circumstance, let our children and small children die of hunger?” she asked. “As much as we need oxygen, we also need bread”.
The DRC is a vast central African nation which contains about 60 percent of the Congo Basin rainforest — the world’s second biggest.
The country has huge reserves of minerals such as gold, coltan and cobalt, as well as untapped oil and natural gas.
Despite branding itself as a “solution country” when it comes to climate change, the DRC has faced criticism for recently opening auctions for 30 oil and gas blocks, some in sensitive forest and peatland areas.
Congolese Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde hit back at the opening of the talks, pointing out that some European countries have returned to burning highly polluting coal due to gas shortages triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Bazaiba appeared optimistic on Tuesday when she announced that the DRC, Brazil and Indonesia would work to present a common front at the COP27.
The three rainforest countries are planning to act together at the climate negotiations on shared interests such as access to finance and raising the price of carbon per tonne.
However, there were notes of discord at the pre-COP27.
Some attendees told AFP they found the speeches of DRC government officials “warlike” and “virulent”.
United States Climate Envoy John Kerry also told reporters in Kinshasa on Tuesday that Washington had asked the DRC’s government to abandon auctions for oil blocks in sensitive areas, arguing that it was possible to strike a balance between creating jobs and protecting the forest.
There are fears that drilling for oil and gas in sensitive ecological areas in the Congo Basin could release vast amounts of heat-trapping gas.
Around 30 billion tonnes of carbon are stored across the entirety of the Congo Basin, researchers estimated in a study in Nature in 2016. The figure is roughly equivalent to three years of global emissions.
France’s Energy Transition Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher nonetheless told AFP that the pre-COP27 talks had been “very useful”.
“I’m leaving with the feeling that this event has enabled us to tighten our positions, to restate the urgency of action,” she said.
The topic of financing for climate-related damages will arise during the COP27 summit, Pannier-Runacher added, because it “concerns all countries”. The minister also said access to finance had to be simplified.
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