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Australia confirms 2050 zero-carbon emissions target, receives backlash for intermediate climate goals

Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced Australia's commitment to a zero-carbon emission target for 2050 prior to the UN's major climate conference, COP26.

Morrison indicated Australia will use a balanced approach to achieve the target but did not release many details. He noted that "priority technologies" such as hydrogen development would achieve 85% of the reductions in emissions. 

The announcement followed detailed discussions with junior members of the Liberal-National Government coalition. The National Party had concerns about the domestic effects of a zero-emissions target on the agricultural and mining sectors. Australia's Productivity Commission will, therefore, review the impact of the emissions target on regional areas every five years.

Morrison announced Australia will not be increasing its interim 2030 reduction target, despite receiving criticism that that target is neither ambitious nor sufficient. Australia's 2030 target is set at a maximum reduction of 28%. In comparison, the UK's reduction target is 68% and the European Union's is 55%.

COP26 will take place in Glasgow, Scotland from October 31 - November 12, 2021. 

Press release - Prime Minister of Australia

News article - The Age

Japan to assist Mauritius with conservation, restoration of coastal ecosystem

The Japan International Cooperation (JICA) announced that it will provide technical assistance to conserve and restore the coastal ecosystem of Mauritius for the 'Project for the development of Integrated Coastal Ecosystem Management System' and the 'Project for the improvement of livelihood of coastal communities through sustainable development of Blue Economy.'

While Mauritius has a rich coastal ecosystem, global warming has raised water temperatures and excessive harvesting of fish and shellfish has damaged the ecosystem. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic and an oil spill which occurred in July of 2020 have affected the tourism and fishing industries. Therefore, JICA will promote the 'Blue Economy' initiative to formulate fishery management plans and enhance the capacity of fishermen to develop Mauritius’s economy. Additionally, JICA will help establish ecosystem monitoring systems, as well as formulate and implement plans to conserve and restore the coastal ecosystem.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

South Korea joins Global Methane Pledge, increases 2022 ODA budget

South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced the country's plan to join the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030.

In addition, President Jae-in Moon declared that South Korea will increase its 2022 official development assistance (ODA) budget in his speech to the National Assembly on October 25, 2021, targeting the green, digital, and health sectors. The proposed budget increase brings total ODA from KRW3.6 trillion (US$3.3 billion) in 2021 to KRW4 trillion (US$3.7 billion) in 2022.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)

Press release – Cheong Wa Dae (in Korean)

European Parliament adopts climate position for COP26, focuses on climate finance

The European Parliament overwhelmingly adopted its position for the UN COP26 climate talks, which will take place in Glasgow from October 31 - November 12, 2021; the adopted position calls for the EU to remain a world leader in fighting climate change and will encourage high-income countries to improve climate finance for partner countries.

The resolution urged donor countries to deliver on their promise to provide at least US$100.0 billion per year in climate finance to support the green transition in target countries. It also calls for the European Commission to create an international climate club with other major emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG) to set common standards, raise global climate ambition, and create a common carbon border adjustment mechanism. 

Press release - European Parliament

US Senate Appropriations Committee approves 2022 foreign assistance bill totaling US$60.6 billion

The United States Senate Appropriations Committee approved the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations (SFOPS) bill for the fiscal year 2022 (FY2022), providing a total of US$60.6 billion for US foreign assistance. The budget represents a nine percent increase from FY2021 non-emergency enacted levels but remains slightly lower than both the bill passed by the US House of Representatives and the Biden Administration's FY2022 budget request. 

Highlights from SFOPS for FY2022:

  • Global health programs increased by US$1.2 billion over FY2021 enacted levels - three percent less than the House of Representatives-passed companion measure. Global health security programs will receive an additional US$810 million in funding with a focus on COVID-19 and future pandemic response; 
  • Climate change funding received a total of US$2.9 billion, including US$1.5 billion for the Green Climate Fund, US$1.0 billion for bilateral climate programs, and US$450 million for the Clean Technology Fund. Climate funding from the Senate exceeded the Administration's FY2022 request by 14%;
  • Development Assistance and Economic Support Funds - the two main bilateral development funding sources - received budget increases of 16% and 10%, respectively, over FY2021 enacted levels. Other programs, such as the Peace Corps and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, remained equivalent to FY2021 enacted levels; and
  • Personnel funding for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) increased in the hopes that the agency will do more to fill workplace gaps to address the increased frequency and intensity of humanitarian crises.

State- Foreign Operations Appropriations FY2022 - US Senate Appropriations Committee

News report - USGLC

Netherlands to contribute US$1.5 billion in climate financing in 2022

In a letter to parliament, the Dutch Secretary of State for Economic Affairs and Climate, Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, conveyed Dutch expectations for the COP26 climate talks, which will begin on October 31, 2021.

The Dutch government considers mitigation, adaptation, and climate financing initiatives essential during the talks, and hopes that countries worldwide are prepared to sharpen ambition for climate action in light of the recent IPCC Energy Transition report. 

The Netherlands is expected to contribute 1.3 billion (US$1.5 billion) to climate financing in 2022 in both public and private funds.

Press release - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

As stalemate on climate policy persists, Australian churches call for zero-emissions commitment

Leaders from major religious denominations wrote to Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, calling for a commitment to cut emissions by at least 50% by 2030. The Australian government is still in negotiations to ratify a firm 2050 zero-emissions target. 

Divisions between regional Members of Parliament have hindered the Australian governing coalition's agreement on climate change commitments. A formal policy must be agreed upon by the COP26 event in Glasgow, Scotland in November of 2021.

By comparison, New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinta Ardern, has announced her country's commitment to provide NZ$1.3 billion (US$928 million) in climate change assistance in the Pacific region and other countries.

News article - Sydney Morning Herald

News article - West Australian  

Each US$1.3 billion in UK recycled IMF Special Drawing Rights to LMICs will result in US$416 million net loss, says Center for Global Development

The Center for Global Development (CGD), a leading international development think-tank, published a new report criticizing the UK’s proposal to count some of its recycled International Monetary Fund (IMF) Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) as official development assistance (ODA).

CGD calculated that for every £1.0 billion (US$1.3 billion) of SDRs that the UK recycles, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) will experience a £310 million (US$416 million) net loss in development assistance. The UK will count 31% of its recycled SDRs as part of its commitment to reach 0.5% of gross national income (GNI) as ODA, reducing resources from the UK ODA budget that are available to LMICs. CGD has described the UK’s decision to count its recycled SDRs as ODA as "giving with one hand while taking with the other."

Other donor countries that have also decided to recycle their SDRs to LMICs have chosen not to count them as ODA; this decision will ensure that the full amount of SDRs is available to target countries in addition to planned ODA budgets.

The report is heavily critical of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) rules which enable the UK to count IMF lending, via its Poverty, Growth and Reduction Trust, as ODA, arguing that rules do not appropriately reflect the low-level risk of the loans.

The report recommends that:

  • In the short term, the new UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, push the UK Treasury to ensure all of its recycled SDRs are additional to the UK’s 0.5% of GNI ODA budget. If this is not possible, the report recommends that the IMF actively draw on other countries' flows that are not counted as ODA; the funding only counts as ODA when it is drawn down by the IMF and released to countries. It is not counted as ODA when it is merely committed.
  • In the long-term, if a new fund at the IMF is used to channel the additional SDRs to LMICs, it should ensure that any funding that is counted as reserves and subsides by other donors should not be counted as ODA.

Report – Center for Global Development

Japan calls on international financial institutions to support low-income countries with sustainable energy transition

During a virtual meeting of the Development Committee held by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Japan called for the funding of natural gas projects to reduce greenhouse emissions in low-income countries.

Japan emphasized the need to address country needs individually, taking into consideration that some countries do not have resources for an energy transition that excludes natural gas. While natural gas produces greenhouse gases, it emits carbon and other harmful gases at lower quantities than coal or oil. Japan outlined criteria for providing assistance in cases where target countries' resources or private funds are insufficient.

Furthermore, Japan expressed its support for the World Bank’s policy to oppose new coal projects.

News article – The Mainichi

UK government calls on World Bank to support strong, sustainable, inclusive economic growth

The UK government called upon the World Bank Group to do more to support strong, sustainable, and inclusive growth in low- and middle-income countries.

In its statement to the 104th Meeting of the World Bank Group’s Development Committee on October 15, 2021, the UK government identified six key policy areas for action: economic development, infrastructure and financial development assistance, gender equity, pandemic response, climate change, and crisis response. 

The UK government also called upon the World Bank to ensure its International Development Association (IDA) – the low-income country financing window within the Bank - makes better use of its balance sheet to meet IDA countries' financing needs.

The UK government specifically called for World Bank Group to:

  • Trade: Strengthen supply chains, improve low-and middle-income countries' (LMICs) capacity to meet global standards, and mobilize greater investment in most-vulnerable countries;
  • Build Back Better: Work with additional multilateral development banks to provide financing at scale for target countries’ national climate, development, and poverty plans;
  • Gender equality: Help LMICs achieve 40 million more girls in school by 2026 and increase access to social protection systems that help women. The UK also called upon the World Bank to do more to address gender-based violence in its programs.
  • COVID-19: Implement its US$20.0 billion COVID-19 support package and enhance co-operation with the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Initiative, COVAX, and the African Union’s Africa Vaccine Acquisition Trust to enable equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and tests.
  • Climate and Nature: Develop a plan to mobilize greater amounts of private climate finance, work with additional multilateral development banks to mainstream nature into all operations, and develop a new methodology to track and report on nature financing; and
  • Crisis preparedness: Improve LMICs' pandemic and crisis preparedness by providing more flexible financing and increasing investment.

The UK also called upon the World Bank to ensure its IDA 20 replenishment process makes better use of the IDA’s existing balance sheet to address the financing needs of partner countries. The UK indicates financing should be provided in ways that enable the IDA to scale up its financing capacity while protecting financial sustainability.

Press release - UK Government

Canada's Justin Trudeau announces selection date for Minister of International Development

Following the Canadian federal election on September 20th, 2021, re-elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced that the Cabinet swearing-in ceremony will take place on October 26, 2021, and that Parliament will return on November 22, 2021.

The Cabinet selection will include a new, or reinstated, Minister of International Development who will set priorities for Canada’s international development portfolio. The resumption of Parliament will be accompanied by a Throne Speech, which will outline the government’s plans to tackle international development issues such as COVID-19 recovery, climate action, gender equality, and humanitarian crises.

Press release - Prime Minister of Canada

Spain renews Partnership Agreement Framework 2021-2024 with Mozambique

In a public event held at the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation's (AECID) headquarters on October 15, 2021, the Spanish State Secretary for International Cooperation, Pilar Cancela, announced the approval of the Partnership Agreement Framework (MAP) 2021-2024 between Spain and Mozambique.

With an overall budget of €47 million (US$55 million) over the 3-year period, the partnership agreement outlines Spain’s development priorities and bilateral assistance allocations in Mozambique. Spain will prioritize the promotion of health services, democratic governance, and humanitarian assistance in the country among other programs. All development cooperation interventions will be implemented under principles of gender equality, women's rights, human rights, and climate change. 

Press release – MAUC (in Spanish)

US climate envoy, Kerry, calls on leaders to back climate commitments before COP26

Ahead of the COP26 global climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, John Kerry, the US envoy for climate change, declared more must be done to meet needed targets to cut coal, gas, and oil emissions.

Kerry, who has spent the last year negotiating with world leaders on climate diplomacy, is encouraged by steps the European Union, Japan, and others have taken, but is concerned that some of the largest polluters have not pledged enough. 

The UN's COP26 climate summit will take place from October 31 - November, 12, 2021.

Kerry has plans for last-minute climate diplomacy talks in Mexico and Saudi Arabia before the two-week summit. Kerry will face the possibility that the US Congress, with a slim Democratic majority, will not support the necessary legislation and funding to back US commitments. Kerry remains optimistic, however, that Congress will act "responsibly."

News report - AP

In lead up to COP26, Sweden doubles climate finance ODA

In preparation for the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, the Swedish government announced its intention to double official development assistance (ODA) for climate finance to reach SEK15.0 billion (US$1.7 billion) by 2025.

Sweden made the announcement before the Summit in hopes that it would increase pressure on other high-income countries to increase global support for climate finance.

Swedish ODA for climate finance primarily seeks to reduce emissions and develop more resilient societies in low-income countries. Through the additional provision of capital, Sweden hopes to persuade recipients to adopt more ambitious action plans to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Norway to hit 1.01% GNI ODA target in 2022 budget, double climate finance by 2025

The Norwegian government's overarching development policy strategy is to promote sustainable economic development and welfare in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and contribute to combating poverty. The proposed 2022 government budget includes a record-breaking development assistance budget of NOK41.9 billion (US$ 4.7 billion), corresponding to 1.01% of gross national income (GNI). 

The government wishes to continue its focus on the fight against infectious diseases and support for maternal, child, and adolescent health. Efforts to remedy non-communicable diseases, such as mental health, cardiovascular disease, and cancer are also priorities. 

The government emphasizes combating climate change and supporting climate adaptation to prevent natural disasters in its strategy. Increased efforts against hunger, including an increased focus on food from the sea to ensure global food security, are an important part of climate adaptation and COVID-19 response work.

The government proposes NOK8.2 billion (US$ 926 million) for climate measures through the development assistance budget, which includes both climate and forestry programs. With this increase, Norway is on track to double its climate assistance by 2025. 

The government also proposes strengthened development assistance through civil society organizations in the 2022 budget. 

Press release – Norwegian Government (in Norwegian)  

Failure to to uphold US$100.0 billion climate finance agreement will lead to deteriorating trust between development partners, UK warns

A new UK parliament report acknowledged that the UK is unlikely to meet one of its key goals for its Presidency of the COP26 international climate conference - confirming high-income countries' commitment to providing $100.0 billion in climate finance for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The report notes that the failure to achieve this goal will damage the level of trust between negotiating parties, making it harder to make progress on key UK goals for the upcoming COP26.

The UK government set out four key goals for its Presidency of COP26:

  • Have all participating countries submit more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), that commit to further cuts in carbon emissions by 2030;
  • Have all countries commit to reaching net-zero emissions as soon as possible;
  • Ensure that high-income countries honor their commitment to providing US$100.0 billion dollars a year in climate finance for LMICs and climate-vunlerable countries; and,
  • Agree on a package that furthers the Paris Agreement.

Progress is observable for most goals, but the UK parliament acknowledged that the government is likely to miss its goal of having all high-income countries honor their commitment to provide US$100.0 billion dollars per year in climate finance for LMICs.

The original commitment to provide US$100.0 billion in climate finance to LMICs was made by high-income countries in 2009 and has been reiterated at key meetings following its initial proposal and ratification. While final figures will not be available on climate finance until 2022, it is generally accepted that the 2020 goal has not been met. The most recent figures available are dated to 2019 and show that only US$79.6 billion has been raised in climate finance so far. The UK has committed to increasing its commitments to £11.6 billion (US$15.6 billion) in the next four years, and recent pledges by the US, Germany, and Canada mean that total pledges may currently hover around US$10.0 billion short of the target.

The report is clear that this shortcoming will have a negative impact on the level of trust between countries and is likely to make it difficult to make ambitious progress on other key UK goals at COP26. LMICs are being asked to cut their own future emissions while being most-vulnerable to climate change as a result of high-income countries’ historic emissions.

The report also highlights tensions in the type of financing that high-income countries are providing to LMICs as climate finance. Target countries have indicated a clear preference for climate finance to be provided in the form of grants, not loans. However, most public climate finance to date has been provided as loans. In 2019, around 79% of the US$79.6 billion in climate finance provided to LMICs was from governments, and loans comprised 71% of this funding. The UK, to its credit, has provided most of its climate finance as grants. 87% of UK climate finance between 2014 and 2021 was delivered as grants, totalling £4.9 billion (US$6.6 billion).

Report – UK Parliament

 

Independent watchdog outlines steps to ensure UK development assistance fully aligns with Paris Agreement

The UK’s development assistance watchdog, the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI), published findings of a rapid review concerning the alignment of UK development assistance with the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement is an international treaty aimed at limiting climate change and supporting low- and middle-income countries' climate change adaptation and response capacities. The UK government committed to comprehensively aligning its development assistance with Paris Agreements in 2019. While the rapid review commends the government for making this commitment, it calls for a greater level of ambition in meeting its goal and urges the government to ensure alignment is a focal point in its forthcoming International Development Strategy.

ICAI praises the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) for developing four tools to support alignment, which are mandatory for all new programs as of April 2021. These tools, ICAI finds, reflect emerging best practices and involve: a climate risk assessment; shadow carbon pricing; a fossil fuel policy; and alignment with partner countries' climate mitigation and adaptation plans. However, ICAI notes that while the tools are important in addressing climate change, they are not enough to comprehensively align with the Paris Agreement. ICAI also calls for the UK government to scale up its focus on selecting and investing in programs that will expedite the transition to low-emission climate-resilient development.

ICAI highlights that the tools are not mandatory for a large proportion of the official development assistance (ODA) budget, which is exempt from their application and reduces their effectiveness. ICAI additionally questions whether the FCDO has sufficient capacity to apply these tools across an expanding proportion of its ODA budget, given the UK government’s commitment to double its International Climate Finance budget over the next five years.

Finally, ICAI criticizes the UK's reporting process for assessing the alignment of UK development assistance to the Paris Agreement, noting that the procedure is unclear and lacks transparency. The report suggests that the government should confirm key metrics for assessing its progress to alignment and commit to publishing these on a regular basis to improve accountability.

Review - ICAI

Sweden adopts new development cooperation strategy in Western Balkans, Turkey

On October 7, 2021, Sweden adopted a new development cooperation strategy for Turkey and the Western Balkans, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.

The strategy, which will be implemented by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Swedish Institute, Folke Bernadotte Academy, and Consulate General of Sweden in Istanbul, covers the period between 2021 and 2027 and comprises a total of SEK 5.6 billion (US$645 million). Through the program's implementation, Sweden primarily seeks to strengthen conditions for human rights, democracy, the rule of law, gender equality, inclusive economic development, as protection of the environment.

As one of the largest bilateral development partners in the Western Balkans, Sweden’s support complements that of the EU, which includes supporting countries' reform efforts and their EU rapprochement.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Japan provides US$37 million untied loan to improve energy efficiency in Dominican Republic

Co-financed with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Japan will provide ¥3.9 billion (US$37 million) in untied loans to improve energy efficiency in the Dominican Republic. Specifically, the loans will be used to install LED streetlights on public roads, which will promote energy conservation, reduce greenhouse emissions, and promote sustainable economic development.

The untied loan consists of the 6-month Japanese yen (JPY) LIBOR interest rate (the average interest rate London banks are prepared to lend one another in Japanese yen with a 6-month maturity) with 105 basis points, a 40-year repayment period, and a 12-year grace period.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

EU ministers agree on joint position for COP26, focusing on climate finance for mitigation and adaptation strategies

Ministers in the Council of the EU adopted conclusions establishing the EU’s joint position for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, including a call for increased international climate finance mobilization that better balances mitigation and adaptation action.

Combined, the EU and its member states are the world’s largest providers of both development assistance and climate finance, providing more than one-third of global public climate finance.

Conclusions - Council of the EU