Prof Saleemul Huq calls out the "climate finance scandal" in impassioned COP26 speech

Speaking today at the COP26 Water Pavillion Prof Saleemul Huq, the director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) in Bangladesh, outlined what he described as the globe's "climate finance scandal".

In a session entitled making finance flow: turning on the taps for water and climate solutions Huq voiced his concern over the "lack of delivery on the US$100 billion". This is the annual figure from 2020 that developed countries committed to ahead of the Paris Agreement to help support developing countries transition to net zero.

Huq went on to outline that "we're not exactly sure how much they've [developing countries] given", which he estimates is in the order of US$70-80 billion, before saying "even the numbers they claim are subject to challenge".

However, what he argued was not up for challenge was the distribution between loans and grants and funding mitigation versus adaptation; i.e. "the climate finance scandal".

"What is not subject to challenge is the proportion of the funds that they have given, 80 per cent of them have been given us loans for mitigation actions, and only 20 per cent have been given for adaptation," he said.

Explaining further he said: "Now there's a reason for that. The reason is that mitigation activities are essentially renewable energy, wind or solar. They generate energy, generate an income from that energy, sell it and therefore they can repay loans, and so getting loans is much easier.

"But adaptation for poor people struggling with floods and cyclones and droughts. They're just struggling to survive and adaptation funding is just helping them manage the risk, manage the impacts, and they're not making extra money that they can repay a loan with."

On whether loans should be included in the funding mix at all, Huq was clear calling loans "simply inappropriate".

"I would say loans are in fact immoral for polluters to be charging loans to the victims of their pollution, they should be giving them help as a matter of principle. I don't like using the word donors, these are rich countries who...prefer to give loans for mitigation and do not like giving grants for adaptation."

So what can be done to remedy the above? He said that many speeches from heads of government at COP26 supported his view, and that is for climate finance for developing countries to really work "half the money on adaptation, and that should be in the form of low grants, not loans...should be targeted at the most vulnerable communities in the most vulnerable countries".

He also argued that rather than making a seperate case for water, impacting flooding, droughts, water salinity and more, everyone should join adaptation groups and raise the funding to get climate action measures implemented on the ground that would also fit organisations' "core agenda of managing water at the same time".

Read more:

'So much is already beyond adaptation' Saleemul Huq talks climate reality checks and COP26

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