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Civil society coalition emphasises need for accountability, transparency, equity to achieve a ‘fair’ just transition

A coal-fired power station

Photo by Bloomberg

10th June 2024

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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A coalition of civil society organisations from Indonesia, Senegal, South Africa and Vietnam on June 10 launched their ‘Principles for a Fair Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP)’, which emphasises the integral need for accountability, transparency and equity in climate finance.

International renewable energy advocacy organisation 350.org said the guiding principles were identified with the input of Global South communities.

“Finance is not neutral because it can support transformative aspirations or perpetuate injustices under the guise of environmental progress. The current international financial system shows significant power imbalances between developed and developing nations, which must be addressed to achieve just, people-centred climate action,” said 350.org public finance campaigner Alia Kajee.

The civil society organisations called on the Group of 7 (G7) leaders to commit to climate action through principled access to financing to ensure the global transition has sufficient resources.

The poor quality of financing undermines the ability of developing countries to fairly and predictably plan climate actions, the organisation argued.

In some cases, the lending practices were even predatory and funnel resources back to richer nations, Kajee stated.

"There is need for stronger commitments from the richest nations. The climate goal of mobilising $100-billion a year from developed countries has been met, albeit two years later than planned, although the amount was 15% higher than originally committed," she said.

In recent years, some climate financing has been provided as common loans with interest and a string of benefits for the lending nations, which play a critical role in influencing the international climate debate.

The JETP needs resources to address systemic challenges and support contextual and relevant climate actions.

"This is important because the cost of accessing finances by developing countries is more expensive than for developed countries and loans to developing countries are part of a vicious cycle in which loans limit the ability of developing countries to invest in climate actions," Kajee said.

Further, not only is the debt of developing countries a red flag in terms of lending, but the terms and conditions of loans often require macroeconomic changes in developing countries' economies, including liberalising and cutting back spending.

However, austerity and debt servicing costs often affect the marginalised most who are reliant on public services, she emphasised.

Additionally, much of the climate financing also requires developing countries to phase out coal, while developed countries are responsible for 27% of new oil and gas projects and for nearly half of new coal projects worldwide.

"Donor countries must lead by example and stop financing fossil fuel-based projects and embark on just climate financing. Developed countries must make a strong commitment and develop a new collective and quantified set of climate goals that meet developing countries' needs," she said.

The fair JETP principles developed by recipient countries and community-based organisations can be used to hold decision-makers accountable, drive demand and build solidarity with a just energy transition.

"The principles can serve as a critical tool for local aspirations and prevent the hijacking of the energy transition agenda by powerful interests. To meet the needs of developing countries, finance must be transparent, accountable and inclusive, and must lead to economic, environmental and social justice," said Kajee.

The Global South urgently needs climate finance to transition to sustainable energy systems, but funding must not compromise important values of societies.

“Finance, therefore, must be connected to the environmental, economic and social issues countries and societies face and must shift to fit the context, said South African renewable energy activist organisation Nu-Climate Vision campaigner Brighton Phiri.

"The context is that the majority of countries in the Global South are in deep debt and finance deals are not ideal in this context, hence climate finance must not worsen this situation," he said.

Climate funding must be accountable, transparent and participatory. Financing must be done with respect for human rights and ensure economic and ecological justice, and financing must be sustainable in nature, meaning it must be able to stop Indonesia's reliance on extractive economies, said Bersihkan Indonesia Coalition and Trend Asia director Ahmad Ashov Birry.

"We also call for the implementation of a sustainable energy transition, and this process must be from the bottom up," he said.

"A JETP must recognise that true justice lies in ensuring that the masses are impacted and that communities benefit from the transition. This will only be achieved through people having access to sustainable renewable energy solutions," said 350Africa.org Francophone field organiser Christian Hounkannou.

 The JETP deals announced in South Africa, Indonesia, Vietnam and Senegal underscore the need for finance in combating the climate crisis.

"As discussions around COP29 in November begin to take shape, robust commitments to principled climate finance are essential for the world's climate response. Despite finally meeting the $100-billion yearly goal, developed countries are seemingly in favour of placing higher interest rates and restrictive conditions on their investments.

"This course of climate finance may hinder effective climate action in developing nations and increase their debt burden. Civil society voices urge G7 leaders and developed nations, as major polluters, to commit to creating a sustainable energy future through just climate finance deals," the civil society organisations said.

Finance ministers must prioritise funding mechanisms aligned with justice objectives to avoid undue strain on national economies, while ensuring greater transparency and accountability within JETPs, said Senegal nonprofit Lumière Synergie pour le Développement programme manager Ndeye Fatou Sy.

"Partnerships, guided by principles ensuring efficacy and impact, are critical for driving effective climate action," she said.

JETP processes must provide solutions to problems, as communities would still be exposed to the impacts of activities. Therefore, the best way of defining how advantages and benefits from JETP projects were shared by communities involved was to ensure that communities had access to information and were consulted in multi-stakeholder plants. Governments would often oversee projects and the needs and expectations of communities must be included from the get go, she said.

"A principled approach to finance is vital for navigating the global climate finance landscape, ensuring equitable and effective solutions. Initiatives like JETP highlight the need for just transitions, but aligning them with national climate finance direction and unlocking public finance, particularly in the Global South, is crucial.

"It is crucial that G7 member States demonstrate a willingness to deliver finance at COP29," said 350.org policy and campaigns associate director Andreas Sieber.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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