While new parliamentary debates are initiated within the federal government, the question of the financing of international climate aid is still in a dead end, for lack of a new cooperation agreement on the distribution of climate efforts between the different entities. from the country. A situation that places Belgium at odds with its international commitments, underlines Rebecca Thissen, in charge of this file at the CNCD on 11.11.11.
The previous cooperation agreement came to an end in December 2020. Why is the situation still blocked today?
Climate finance is captive to other climate issues. The cooperation agreement has become an issue and an extremely complicated bric-a-brac with the European objectives revised upwards, the delay taken by our country in renewable energies, etc. Politically, it becomes practically impossible to come out on top. Due to its internal quarrels, Belgium is still unable to commit to international solidarity.
Is it so problematic? Despite everything, our country continues to mobilize money for international climate aid every year. Announcements to this effect were made at COP 26 in Glasgow…
It is true that the federal government and the Regions – except for Flanders – are advancing in their room. If we juxtapose all the measures, there is always a little better. In 2020, out of a total paid of 100.6 million. It’s not nothing but it represents much less than what our neighbors are doing. And this represents much less than what should be done if we consider the GDP of our country and its historical responsibility in the phenomenon of global warming.
In practice, this all becomes completely unreadable. Each year, the governments of each Region have to consult in disaster, before or very often during the UN climate summit, to get a few million more out of their hats. It’s always messy and afterwards it’s a hassle to know how they’re going to use this money because we don’t have a multi-year vision of this budget. It varies a bit from region to region, but it’s total cacophony. Today, despite our efforts, it is impossible to know what Belgian climate finance represents, what it is used for and what really goes to the beneficiaries. While the very idea of the climate finance mechanism is to have a commitment and predictability to establish real trust vis-à-vis the beneficiaries. Even if small efforts are made, Belgium does not respect the commitments made in the Paris agreement.
What are you asking?
The first choice is that Belgium finally concludes a cooperation agreement, that we set a national amount and a distribution between the different entities of the country, even if there is a growth trajectory. It’s something we know how to do for NATO, why can’t we do it for the climate? For us, the final objective, which should be reached before 2025, is 500 million per year.
The federal government must make the biggest effort because it has the most resources. In addition, it still recycles its development cooperation budget to account for it in its international climate finance. This amounts to double counting. The same funding is used twice for two different commitments.
We also ask that each Region also do its duty within its own budget to contribute to this national objective with clear perspectives. Often, we tend to hide behind the fact that there is no cooperation agreement, the fact that Flanders is blocking… As a result, no one does their homework at their own level.
Five hundred million euros per year, isn’t that a lot in the current budgetary context?
It’s relative. We still invest 13 billion a year in direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies. We could already rethink allocating this money to slightly fairer and more sustainable objectives. The 100 million annually currently devoted to international climate financing represent 0.02% of national GDP. When we see the resources that will be mobilized for defense policies, we can say to ourselves that it is not that much…
The easiest way to find money is to use the revenues from the European carbon market. This fund is fed each year and there are currently more than 700 million euros which have been blocked for a year and a half because there is still no cooperation agreement. It’s absurd. Especially since we did not say that all of it should go to international financing, this money that is sleeping in an account could also be used for national climate measures. We can also innovate and find other methods of additional financing, by using part of the income from taxation on car parks, for example. What is needed is political courage. On the international scene, Belgium likes to show how committed it is to diplomacy, attached to multilateralism, etc. In fact, if we are not able to respect our international commitments, it becomes less and less credible.
In Glasgow, Wallonia half-opened the door to compensation for the losses suffered by certain countries in the South due to global warming. Should a specific channel be dedicated to this purpose alongside those spent on adaptation and the reduction of CO2 emissions?2 ?
It’s still a little early to ask that, even if it will become an essential element of climate negotiations in the future. Opening such a channel without having international structures, at this stage, seems to me politically very very complicated. And I don’t think that would really build a positive dynamic. On the other hand, Belgium as a country could commit, like Wallonia, to the financing of very specific small projects to advance this debate on the definition of what “climate losses and damage” are and how to answer to.