UCL Anthropocene


COP26 Blogs: Richard Taylor

Professor Richard Taylor (Geography) reports directly from COP26 on progress on finance for climate change adaptation

Richard Taylor COP26

COP26 this week saw a flurry of announcements from high-income (high greenhouse-gas (GHG)-emitting) countries committing additional funds to support climate change mitigation and adaptation in low-income (low GHG-emitting) countries most affected by climate change. Currently, access to climate finance through the Green Climate Fund established in 2009 at COP15 in Copenhagen is biased toward initiatives mitigating climate change, namely projects reducing greenhouse-gas emissions or increasing carbon-capture storage. Discussions have also recognised the need to shift the current skewed division in climate finance between mitigation (75%) and adaptation (25%) to one that is balanced (50/50). 

A long-term colleague (and UCL Geography PhD alumni, 2008), Dr. Callist Tindimugaya, in the Ugandan delegation related to me that while the increased financial commitments and focus on adaptation were welcome, similar promises of increased climate finance made previously did not materialise. As a result, there is a very serious issue of trust in relation to the delivery of these newly announced promises.

Additional sticking points include: (i) the excessive and highly bureaucratic demands placed on low-income countries to secure access to climate finance, (ii) the fact that decisions over the use of climate finance are typically made in London, Washington DC, and Paris rather than Arusha, Kampala or Dhaka; and (iii) transparency around how climate finance is spent – is it actually reaching the people most affected by climate change? This unbalanced situation persists despite the well-recognised injustice of climate change in which low-income and low-emitting countries are disproportionately affected by climate change. 

Growing recognition of the disproportionate impacts of climate change experienced by low-income countries appears to influencing the tone of current discussions at COP26 (at least as I write this) in which high-income countries accept not only the need for increased climate finance but also a more respectful and collaborative approach to its allocation. There is also a growing push by low-income countries for climate finance to support more transparent, locally led solutions to climate adaptation. 

Image: Dr Callist Tindimugaya (Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda; UCL PhD 2008) and Professor Richard Taylor (UCL Geography) at COP26.