Hot climate, cold reception: European leaders to skip climate summit with African counterparts

(People's Daily Online) 09:24, August 30, 2022

Seven African presidents will travel to the Netherlands next month in search of promised funds to help their countries cope with the disastrous forces of climate change. Still, their European counterparts plan to forgo the meeting, with experts anticipating a flop.

According to Politico, the summit will be the first significant test of the rich world's pledge to double its financial support for climate-proofing projects in poorer nations to approximately $40 billion per year by 2025. The promise was made at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the U.K., last November. Significant as it is, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is the only European leader planning to attend in person, which is probably the case given that the event will be hosted in his own home country, meaning he simply has no other option but to attend.

Organizers from the Global Centre on Adaptation said they had invited leaders from countries that have traditionally contributed to financing initiatives for climate change adaptation, including France, Denmark, Finland, and Norway. But none of those countries' leaders have committed to making the short trip to Rotterdam to attend the summit in person, despite the anticipated presence of seven presidents from Senegal, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Zambia.

The European Commission will be represented by Executive Vice President for the Green Deal Frans Timmermans. A spokesperson revealed that the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had also received and declined an invite, the EU's top leader likewise having somewhere else to be, Politico reported.

Experts warn the summit could fall flat if European leaders fail to reciprocate the enthusiasm of their African counterparts and instead choose to solely prioritize domestic issues in the face of a generational cost-of-living crisis now gripping the continent.

Development finance for adaptation projects like sea walls, drought-resistant infrastructure and early warning systems for extreme weather events lags far behind in terms of the amount of funding outlays made for emissions-cutting projects like solar farms, projects that can more readily generate a handsome income and attract private investment. In 2020, roughly a third of international climate finance — some $28.6 billion — was spent on adaptation.

"Adaptation is not as sexy as mitigation. It's egregiously underfunded. So that's a hard sell in the best of times," Theodore Murphy, director of the Africa program at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Politico, adding: "It's probably not the best time in Europe to be raising funds for something that nobody cares all that much about."

(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)


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