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PM calls for more climate funding

Friday 18 November 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Economy, Environment, National

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PM calls for more climate  funding
Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown addresses COP 27. Photo: Office of the Prime Minister/22111134

Prime Minister Mark Brown says funding for smaller nations affected by climate change must be accelerated.

Brown, who has recently returned from the 27th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 27) in Egypt, said this conference was the first time that a Loss and Damage Finance Facility had been debated.

“It remains to be seen whether the big players and developed countries will get on board,” PM Brown said.

“It’s been talked about for years. There was great difficulty in acknowledging loss and damage from the impacts of climate change for countries like ours.

“It’s only this year that we’ve seen a positive step. Previously, there was a lot of discussion and arguments about who should fund it and whether we should have it at all.”

PM Brown said it will take years before it gets implemented.

“New Zealand has put forward $20 million towards Loss and Damage finance mechanism, Germany has proposed a contribution as well,” he said.

“But what form it takes, and how countries will be able to access it and how it gets distributed remains to be seen.”

There were more than 168 countries represented at the event, and one of the goals is to agree to measures that keep the global average temperature rise this century as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is very pessimistic about that target,” PM Brown said. “Unless countries hit their targets, it looks like we’re not going to make that 1.5 degrees.”

PM Brown said Cook Islands’ contribution was “like a matchstick in a forest fire”.

“What we can do is advocate, to make sure the larger carbon emitting countries are made aware of their responsibilities, and that they need to step up,” he said.

“I’ve been talking about this for more than 10 years. We’ve been pushing proposals and initiatives for countries like ours, and one of the things that we’ve been pushing for is the access for climate funding to be accelerated and simplified.”

“It’s a complicated process for countries like ours to access it. You have countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh whose climate resilience requirements amount in the billions of dollars, whereas smaller countries such as ours are in the millions of dollars.

“There needs to be tailored financing mechanisms for smaller island states. Other countries are starting to come to terms with this.”

Asked whether the Cook Islands Government should establish a separate Ministry for Climate Change Issues, Brown said the current status of the Climate Change portfolio, which sits in the Office of the Prime Minister, was sufficient for now.