Environmentalists see India's G20 presidency as an opportunity for developing countries to mainstream climate change agenda, particularly climate financing, in view of the decision to establish a 'loss and damage' fund during COP27 last year. This is especially because three major developing countries, including India and Indonesia, are part of the grouping.
"The first major issue is loss and damage and the second one is how partnership for energy transition can be done", said Sanjay Vashist, director, Cansa, a coalition of over 300 civil society organisations working in eight south Asian countries.
"All countries are facing the developmental challenge and such a loss and damage fund needs to be operationalised. One important factor is the governance system of such a resource. Since G20 countries contribute 85 percent of the global GDP, they can build an understanding of how to replenish loss and damage," he said. India assumed the presidency of the G20 on December 1, 2022.
The troika comprises Indonesia, India and Brazil, the first time that three developing and emerging economies are part of the core group of the G20 bloc.
"They are the ones who decide the agenda. India will be part of the troika when the G20 presidency moves to Brazil for the next term. So developing countries' role within the G20 bloc is of paramount importance when figuring out climate finance and energy transition partnership.”
"Most of the green energy technology is with these nations and they need to decide among themselves how investments will be made in emerging countries," Vashist told PTI on the sidelines of a programme organised at the Kolkata Press Club on Friday.
The event — G20 and Climate Change: National and Regional Perspective — was organised jointly by Cansa and EnGIO, a civil society organisation.
Climate Action Network's global political strategy head, Harjeet Singh, said that the establishment of a loss and damage fund is the "first big step for climate financing but the key is to operationalise the resources and promote resilient development.”
"Here comes the importance of G20 members, particularly G7 nations. These countries have to make sure that they are setting the right path for development," Singh told PTI. Echoing Singh, Observer Research Foundation director, Nilanjan Ghosh, said G20 provides an important platform for Global South countries (developing and underdeveloped nations) to place their demand in terms of climate financing.
"The estimation of loss and damage triggered by climate change is extremely important. It is not just an assessment of economic losses like loss of properties, embankments and human livelihoods. The damage to ecosystem services has to be taken into consideration," Ghosh, also the president of the Indian Society for Ecological Economics, told PTI.
He emphasised on the "need to find the value of loss and damage stream" for the long term.
"Global South nations such as developing and underdeveloped countries can put the right financing mechanism in the summit of nations of the G20 bloc. This will help developing countries to raise their voices in the global negotiation system," Ghosh said.
The proposed fund would largely be based on public finance but innovative sources such as shifting of fossil fuel subsidies, putting levies on financial transactions or air travel etc. should also be explored, Singh said.
"This is where G7 countries have the largest share. According to an estimate, the finance needed for addressing loss and damage would be between $290-580 billion annually by 2030 for developing countries," he said.
This year is going to be "crucial as there would be negotiations to operationalise the loss and damage fund at the earliest", he said. Unlike the "Green Climate Fund which takes time to roll out projects for vulnerable people, we need different arrangements to respond to climate disasters,” he added.
The group of seven developed nations have to "take a leading role" in setting up the proposed fund and ensure that they "provide their fair share of finance so that the fund is up and running", he said.
Jadavpur University's Oceanographic Studies professor, Sugata Hazra, said that Brazil, a G20 member, was able to bring the Amazon rainforest, in spite of its burning episode, into the thrust area of climate change mitigation because of its carbon sequestration potential.
"Similarly, mangroves that we might be losing due to sea level rise and erosion can be a thrust area for climate change mitigation and climate financing process so that the unique biodiversity and tiger habitat is saved. It can be an important Bay of Bengal agenda in bringing mangroves into the focus area during the G20 summit," Hazra told PTI.
In the last 20 years, 110 sq km of mangrove cover with blue carbon have been lost from the core and buffer area of the national park in Sunderbans, a Unesco heritage site, due to sea level rise and erosion triggered by climate change, he said. The term "blue carbon" refers to the carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems.
Hazra also wondered why historical damage such as the destruction of mangroves by colonisers cannot be raised during the summit. "From the late 18th century to India's independence in 1947, more than 4,000 sq km of mangrove was cut down and tigers were killed. Why will such damage not be compensated for the regeneration of mangroves?" Hazra questioned.