Covid has set back efforts to support climate action in developing countries – Minister

Ireland leads OECD efforts to enhance climate finance provisions at COP26

A man is turned away by a guard after he tried to get the Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine at a health facility in Harare, Zimbabwe. Photograph: AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

A man is turned away by a guard after he tried to get the Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine at a health facility in Harare, Zimbabwe. Photograph: AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

 

Covid has had “a multi-layered, bordering on devastating impact” on developing countries, according to Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid Colm Brophy.

This has also made the task of helping climate-vulnerable countries a lot more difficult, especially as so much aid was being swallowed up due to the pandemic, he said at the conclusion of a two-day meeting of 29 development ministers from OECD countries – including the US, UK, Canada, Japan and various EU states.

The meeting, which he co-hosted from Dublin, evaluated the best way of responding to the rise in global poverty due to Covid, and discussed how to strengthen climate change commitments, including green financing, ahead of COP26 UN climate summit hosted by the UK in Glasgow next November.

The gathering was in-camera so there was no formal communiqué issued, but it was an important meeting of OECD countries in the build-up to COP26, added Mr Brophy, who was joined in the Mansion House by co-chair Susanna Moorehead of the OECD – with ministers from around the world joining virtually.

Developing countries were experiencing “a form of long Covid” whereby international efforts to help address hunger, sustainability goals, education needs and equality issues had been set back by years, Mr Brophy said.

The ministers were hoping to build on the climate outcome reached by G7 economies at the weekend, where it was agreed to ensure climate finance of $100 billion a year for developing countries, Mr Brophy said. As development ministers they wanted to go beyond quantitative support to ensuring flexibility and ease of access to funding, he said.

Building on Ireland’s work with small island developing states, he emphasised the need to support climate adaptation to make countries more resilient in the face of inevitable impacts from a warming world and to ease poverty in a tangible way. In addressing the lack of electricity, there was a need to ensure it was not “a fossil-fuel solution”, Mr Brophy underlined.

There was sufficient progress in charting a way forward, he said, whereby a delivery mechanism could be agreed at COP26.