WASHINGTON– Under the Paris climate agreement, wealthy nations are expected to take responsibility for helping less well-off countries that are most vulnerable to climate change, environmental and economic experts said Wednesday.
The agreement, involving 195 nations, was announced in December and aims to combat climate change by ensuring global temperatures do not rise over 2 degrees from pre-industrial levels.
According to a study published by “Nature Climate Change,” to keep global temperatures from climbing, countries need to stop emitting carbon by 2060 and take initiatives to begin purging it from the atmosphere.
Both steps require advanced technology to adapt power plants and other coal-fired energy sources so that they burn clean fuel, said Rosalía De León, undersecretary for the Department of Finance of the Philippines.
De León was one of three panelists at a discussion hosted by the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress, a Washington-based think tank.
Developed regions, such as the United States and European Union, have the financial resources to adapt. But others do not — namely countries represented by the “Vulnerable 20,” a group of finance ministers from developing countries that are most defenseless in the face of climate change.
About 700 million people live in these lands spanning Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and island nations in the Pacific.
“This is all the more motivation for countries to band together and stand together in solidarity to act as a group and take decisive climate action [to combat climate change],” De León said.
During the Paris talks, it was agreed that wealthy nations would work together to raise $100 billion. According to the plan, funding would be used to “provide appropriate technology and capacity-building support” for developing countries.
All three panelists agreed the funds needed to comply with the agreement would far exceed the amount one could expect from public funding. To help reach the goals, individual nations on the giving end would likely reach out to the private sector.
“A lot of finance will be required, far more than is currently flowing and far more than the public sector can provide alone,” said U.S. Treasury Department official Leonardo Martinez-Diaz. “In order to have high ambition in finance you have to recognize the role of the private sector as an essential engine of the new technologies and new innovations that are going to help.”
Martinez-Diaz is the deputy assistant secretary for energy and environment at Treasury, and also the U.S. board member of the Green Climate Fund, founded under the United Nations to help developing countries fight climate change.
Despite the current funding challenges, De León is optimistic that the private and public sectors will join forces.
“It’s not just individual countries’ contributions,” she said. “It’s really more of us working together right now to address the clear and present danger of climate change.“