Bridgetown goes global – Climate Weekly

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Barbados's prime minister Mia Mottley pictured in Geneva in 2019 (Photo credit: Timothy Sullivan (UNCTAD))


Thirty-nine world leaders, most of them from Africa, have spent the last two days talking about climate, debt and finance at the old Paris stock exchange.

With few developed country leaders bothering to make the trip, we were warned not to expect too many big announcements – and so it proved.

We got some progress on temporary debt relief for countries hit by climate disasters, rich countries promising to find $2.7 billion for renewables in Senegal and some promises to re-channel special drawing rights (a kind of quasi-money) to developing countries. But that was about it.

The roadmap released alongside the summary calls on the committee negotiating the loss and damage fund to look at taxing high-emitting sectors. Taxes on ships, planes, fossil fuels and financial transactions have been talked about.

Mia Mottley’s adviser Avinash Persaud, one of the brains behind the conference, told journalists that whether it was a success or not depends on what you compare it to.

If you compare it to reformers’ ambition, then it fell short. But if, a year ago, you’d told people that these conversations would be happening, they would have asked what you were smoking, he said.

Aside from the announcements, the gathering got lots of powerful people in a room together to talk about issues that are often ignored, particularly in wealthier countries.

And it put those issues on the global media agenda. A concert took place in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, bringing talk of farming adaptation and Amazon protection to fans of Billie Eilish and Elton John, watching online and around the world.

Powerful people were challenged to their face and on camera. Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate called for an “equitable fossil fuel phase out” while Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, whose negotiators blocked agreement on this at Cop27, sat in the front row.

Mottley told philanthropists that what they do “can’t only be what they like, it has to be what the world needs” while Melinda Gates looked on. 

Ghana’s Nana Akufo-Addo asked IMF boss Kirstalina Georgieva why her fund had given most of the SDRs to rich countries during the pandemic, only to call for them to be re-allocated now.

Those were just some of the confrontations captured on camera. More will have happened in the corridors and in leaders private dinner last night.

The summit’s impact will depend on what leaders do next though – back home, at next week’s shipping talks in London, at the World Bank meeting in Marrakech in October and at Cop28 in Dubai in November. So stay tuned!

This week’s news:

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This article was updated on 26 June. It originally said that an expectation for MDBs to scale up lending capacity had appeared in an early draft of the chair’s summary but not in the final one. This was deleted because, while it was not in the final chair’s summary, it was in the “Paris consensus for people and planet” outcome document.

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