Sri Lanka facing another uphill battle on global front:Climate Finance

• Excessive bureaucracy between developed country parties and Sri Lankan negotiators

• Sri Lankan side studying how to crack the code of complex financial mechanism

• World’s biggest carbon polluters are just a few countries

By Sanath Nanayakkare

Sri Lanka’s attempts to gain access to Climate Finance from developed country parties is going to require a great deal of effort as there is a whole slew of bureaucracy between the developed country parties and Sri Lankan negotiators, Harsha Wickramasinghe, Deputy Director General (Demand Side Management) Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority told The Island Financial Review last week.

Speaking to The Island at the International Conference on Climate Change 2023 (ICCC 2023) held at Taj Samudra Colombo, the renewable energy expert said,” It is so very difficult to access Climate Finance. It is technically very sophisticated to write a proposal and get it approved by these people. I have gone through the mill with one of the Climate Funds and found it a very frustrating exercise. They are used to these systems, but we are not. So we have to learn the tricks of the trade when it comes to gaining access to Climate Finance. It’s not about being unable to convince these parties, but about the mechanism that they have put in place for such funding to actually materialise. There is a large amount of bureaucracy between us and them. We have not given up though. I’d say that we are learning by doing it. My hope is that things will improve as we go along. We have intelligent people on our side that can crack the code and have access to Climate Finance. When you take institutional lenders such as the Asian Development Bank or the World Bank, they have a good system up and running. In contrast, Climate Finance is in its initial stage and they have a way of doing their own evaluations. Besides, they have a lot of teething issues in the process.”

Climate Finance refers to public, private and alternative sources of financing utilized to support mitigation and adaptation to address climate change. The Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement call for financial assistance from parties with more financial resources to those that are less endowed and more vulnerable.

Developed country parties are to provide financial resources to assist developing country parties in implementing the objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

To facilitate the provision of climate finance, a financial mechanism has been established to provide financial resources to developing country parties. Sri Lanka, however, finds this mechanism a frustrating one to break through.

“Wealthy countries are disproportionately responsible for the climate crisis, and they have the double responsibility to both cut emissions at home and to support developing countries with the costs of moving from dirty energy forms to cleaner, lower-carbon ones,” said Oxfam’s Climate Policy Lead Nafkote Dabi in November 2022.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who had participated in the COP 27 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt in November 2022, was critical of the countries that were historically accountable for the greatest damage and are capable of meaningful contributions, but have stymied the furtherance of climate action.

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