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Climate change is a shared global problem and therefore requires global solidarity, cooperation, and justice.
As a practical matter, no single country can solve its own climate crisis as the degree of the climate emergency is largely depending on the actions (or inaction) outside of its own borders. Thus, countries should ensure they are seen by others as doing their fair share toward the common goal, in order to entice other countries to reciprocal action. The global Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that we are only safe once everybody is safe. And that nationalist approaches (for example vis-à-vis vaccines) which ignore our profound interconnectedness are failing (e.g., because they allow new virus variants to emerge).
Regarding climate change, lack of ambitious and cooperative action on emissions reductions and on adaptation leads to an unsafe future for everybody. However, within this future, those affected first and worst will be those least responsible for causing the harm and least capable of adapting to the impacts, which is a profound injustice. This injustice further extends to future generations, as the failure of past and present generations to leave this planet to our descendants in a state that can support a human civilization similar to the one we’re currently enjoying. This all suggests that justice and equity must be at the center of an effective response to the climate crisis. In addition to common sense, the IPCC is also making this point in their assertion that “the evidence suggests that outcomes seen as equitable can lead to more effective cooperation.” (IPCC 2014) This is especially important as large swaths of the planet are still experiencing infuriating levels of poverty, suffering and hardship. A just and effective climate response must be cognizant of these circumstances as a climate response that’s placing undue burdens on the poor, asking them to prioritize climate action over their own immediate basic needs is poised to fail.
International climate finance and support has long been recognized as a central way in which wealthier countries can help ensure substantial climate action in less wealthy countries, without asking those countries to divert some of their limited resources to climate action at the expense of other important development objectives. This also suggests that, to avoid this trade-off between climate action and other development objectives, climate finance would need to be in addition to, instead of partially replacing, finance provided by wealthier countries as Official Development Assistance. In fact, provision of climate finance for developing countries’ climate action is a legal obligation of developed countries under the UNFCCC (UNFCCC 1992, Article 4.3). However, climate finance is also beset by myriad issues that prevent it from fulfilling this role. For example, the $100 billion collective finance goal for the developed countries is woefully insufficient compared to the climate finance needs of developing countries,1 and contributor countries are not even making sufficient contributions to provide that insufficient amount. And this is exacerbated by the fact that most of the amounts that do get raised flow into mitigation (instead of ensuring a balance with adaptation) activities and that too much of the total consists in loans (which have to be repaid, thus further indebting the recipient nations). With a commitment to reach €6 billion euros a year by 2025 in climate finance, France is far from contributing enough to reach the $100 billion collective goal and far from responding to the growing needs of impacted communities. The quality of France’s climate finance is also falling behind: with only 15% of grants-based climate finance, it has one of the lowest proportions of grant-based finance among donors (France 2020). This reliance on loans to deliver climate finance is deeply problematic since it perpetuates poorer countries debt burden. It is also questionable whether the provision of finance through loans (which will have to be repaid) meets the moral and legal obligations to provide finance. Further, the share for adaptation is not reflecting the need for a balance between mitigation and adaptation. France’s continuous denial of the need to address loss and damage finance, including at COP26, can also be seen as a way to try and escape the full scope of its responsibilities.
In this context, the purpose of this report is to establish France’s fair share of a global climate action effort that is sufficiently ambitious to stave off the worst impacts of the worsening climate emergency. It will do so with a focus on mitigation and provision of finance (while leaving a discussion of France’s adaptation actions for a later date) and is based on the universally accepted ethical principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. France’s fair share will be expressed as a total mitigation contribution consistent with the temperature limitation objective of 1.5°C as per the Paris Agreement. Within this context, the report will also provide some guidance with regards to the amount of climate finance that France should be providing this year and for the rest of the decade.