Small island states call for more aid to fight global warming

More ambition is needed from global powers to close climate and development gaps. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK - Small island states, comprising some of the most remote and vulnerable to global warming, say they are being severely shortchanged by developed countries.

A statement by the 39-member Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) - which includes Singapore - issued in New York on Wednesday (Sept 22) said its members were heartened that the United States will double its climate finance action in developing countries to US$11.4 billion (S$15.4 billion) a year by 2024.

But it noted that more ambition is needed from global powers to close climate and development gaps.

"Funding for the root causes of climate change is exponentially greater than funding to the response to climate change" said the AOSIS Leaders' Declaration - its first in seven years.

"The Financial Mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) only provided US$2.5 billion in 2018 to developing countries, with SIDS (small island developing states) receiving a minute share equal to roughly US$245 million," it said.

"The overall distribution of financial support between mitigation and adaptation to date is 80 per cent and 20 per cent respectively, with only 2 per cent of the climate finance made available to SIDS, of which half were in the form of loans," it added, urging more assistance.

Separately this week, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported that climate finance from developed countries to small island developing states fell back to 2017 levels in 2019 - from US$2.1 billion in 2018 to US$1.5 billion.

Meanwhile, at least US$1.6 trillion has been spent on fossil fuel subsidies by major emitters over the five years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015, AOSIS said.

Subsidising of fossil fuels by major emitters, particularly the Group of 20 (G-20) nations, runs counter to their obligations under the Paris Agreement, and also contrary to the best available science, AOSIS said.

"Fossil fuel subsidies amounted to over US$471 billion in 2018, compared to US$160 billion in renewable energy subsidies, illustrating an unfair competitive advantage provided to the fossil fuel industry," the declaration states.

This "creates artificial barriers to the growth of the renewable energy industry and the locking in of carbon-intensive infrastructure, and the retention of the fossil fuel industry's overwhelming share of the global energy sector, which runs counter to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement."

It also runs counter to the seventh Sustainable Development Goal which is to "ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all."

The declaration was launched on Wednesday at the virtual AOSIS Leaders' Summit, on the margins of the 76th United Nations General Assembly.

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