Money pledges were in the spotlight at COP28 in Dubai on Monday as delegates turned their focus to the yawning gap in how much climate finance is needed and what's on tap, particularly for developing countries that need funds each year just to adapt to the warming world.
The United Arab Emirates is choking under "alarmingly high" air pollution levels fed by its fossil fuel industry, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned on Monday as the oil-rich country hosts the UN's COP28 climate talks in Dubai.
The 24-page report, “‘You Can Smell Petrol in the Air’: UAE Fossil Fuels Feed Toxic Pollution” documents alarmingly high air pollution levels in the UAE, which create major health risks for its citizens and residents and contribute to the global climate crisis, said the report.
The UAE is one of the world’s largest oil producers and home to seven so-called “carbon bombs", the world’s largest fossil fuel production projects. Air pollution and climate change are directly linked, as the burning of fossil fuels contributes to air pollution and drives climate change, the report added.
A consortium led by the Rockefeller Foundation has launched a pilot initiative to use carbon credits to retire a coal power plant in the Philippines before the end of its natural life, it said on Monday during the COP28 climate talks in Dubai.
In the latest plan to be announced on the sidelines of the summit, the Coal to Clean Credit Initiative (CCCI), supported by Philippine energy company ACEN and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said it aimed to use carbon credits to decommission the South Luzon Thermal Energy Corporation (SLTEC) plant by as early as 2030, a decade ahead of its current retirement date.
"To retire coal plants, avoid those emissions, and create jobs, we need to create the right incentives for asset owners and communities and mobilise additional finance," Foundation President Rajiv Shah said.
France and Japan have announced that they will lead in supporting the African Development Bank's facility to leverage IMF Special Drawing Rights for climate and development, the COP28 presidency said in a post on X on Monday.
SDRs are rainy day foreign exchange reserves held at the IMF that are rarely used, although some were during the Covid pandemic. Allowing the SDRs to be on-lent to development banks could help them bolster climate finance in developing markets.
Banks in the United Arab Emirates on Monday pledged to mobilise 1 trillion dirhams, or around $200 billion, in green finance, the chair of the country's banking federation told the COP28 climate talks.
Announced on the day dedicated to finance at the event in Dubai, it joins a growing list of pledges on everything from building renewable energy to helping farmers improve soil quality.
"At this pivotal moment it is my great honour to announce a landmark commitment that, fulfilling the UAE ambition, our UBF banking, national banks, have collectively pledged to mobilise over 1 trillion dirham," Abdul Aziz Al Ghurai said.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who has become a prominent voice in global discussions about mobilising climate finance, urged countries to go beyond voluntary pledges and pleas to charities and private investors and instead to consider taxes as a way to boost climate funding.
At a news conference at COP 28, she warned that, "unless we have an urgent set of decision-making, we are going to suffer what every parent suffers from – exciting expectations and being unable to deliver".
A global 0.1% tax on financial services, for example, could raise $420 billion, she said, while a 5% tax on global oil and gas profits in 2022 would have yielded around $200 billion.
"The planet needs global governance not in a big stick way, but in a simple way of us cooperating with each other to be able to work with the institutions that we have," she added.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)