People helping each other cross a road during a flood.
West Bengal, India | © Ranita Roy
Dear ICC community, 

The 1979 publication, A Bend in the River, was widely viewed as one of the crowning achievements in the career of V.S. Naipaul, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001. I have read this book many times over the years, and each rereading, as Howard W. French puts it, confronts the “glaring, foundational flaw” – the reductionism of Africa and its people to mere iconic abstractions and, in doing so, portends a degree of astonishing historical obliviousness. Over the course of the two weeks of COP27, the “African COP”, I’ve thought about Naipaul’s A Bend in the River, and our tendency towards increasing dramatic dissonance in the climate community; our elevation of words or concepts like “net zero” to totemic status; as well as the slow pace of progress on climate finance and emissions reductions targets.  

And, yet, however much we ‘talk climate’, the fact is that much of the developing world, like Africa, is suffering for what it didn’t cause. Africa contributes only 3% to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but suffers disproportionately from its negative impacts. Today, it loses between USD 7 billion and USD 15 billion a year to climate change, and, if things don’t change, it will lose USD 50 billion a year by 2030. 

Writers of fiction deserve extra credit for anticipating the future, which is surely no requirement of their art. While Naipaul was unable to imagine an ascendant future for Africans, this failure of imagination is perhaps the greatest of them all –the growth of the human population in this dawning age will be overwhelmingly concentrated in the African continent, whose numbers will greatly outstrip China’s and India’s combined – humanity is going to be centred here. If COP27 had the opportunity, then it failed to seize the moment and its rightful custodianship, in this era of impatience, of defining our very human futures. 

Our newsletter this month reflects on prominent themes at COP27, and, more importantly, the challenges that we must face going forward. The demand at this year’s COP, understandably, was about putting money on the table. A long time ago, the developed world promised USD 100 billion a year in support of climate finance for developing countries. Although negotiations on Loss & Damage progressed this year, we also saw the risk of progress plateauing with regard to other aspects such as mitigation and GHG emissions, or even receding, relative to COP26 in Glasgow. The final cover declaration managed to avoid the worst, but did we avoid the best.  

With great expectations from the Loss & Damage fund, we know that much is left to be done in terms of its operationalisation – before the funds can reach communities and countries most impacted by extreme climate events. Ranita Roy’s photo collection ‘Flood’ captures the overwhelming and powerful nature of water in West Bengal, submerging entire communities and forcing them to radically adapt or flee to survive. This collection, featured in our newsletter, is a poignant visual reminder that the ground realities of climate change need to inform how the mechanisms for Loss & Damage are implemented, and how we build more inclusive climate narratives into international negotiations. 

On behalf of the ICC team, 
An old man wades through a flooded road.
West Bengal, India | © Ranita Roy

Loss & Damage at COP27 | A big win, but what challenges remain? 

More than 39 hours after the scheduled close of COP27, countries reached an agreement to institute a Loss & Damage fund (LDF), particularly to assist the most climate-vulnerable nations in responding to the climate crisis. This marked an important milestone in the negotiations, with the issue added to the official agenda and adopted for the first time at COP27.  Dr. Ajita Tiwari Padhi, Program Manager – Land Use, ICC, explains the significance of the LDF, and its relevance for India. 

The LDF is over and above the committed climate finance of USD 100 billion promised by developed countries to developing countries by 2020, which remains unmet. The details regarding the operationalisation of the new LDF will be hammered out by the ‘transitional committee’ set up to undertake this task. 

The fund is expected to support countries most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, such as Small Island Developing States (SIDS). SIDS is a group of low-lying coastal and small island countries, such as Maldives, Seychelles, and Haiti. These are among the nations least responsible for climate change, having contributed less than 1% to the world's GHG emissions, and were the first to call for the establishment of such a fund.  

The fund will also support least developed countries (LDCs), like Bangladesh and Nepal, and developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, such as Pakistan. It is likely to draw on contributions from developed countries at the beginning, with scope for identifying and diversifying funding sources, including the private sector and philanthropies.  

Relevance for India 
During the negotiations, the US' and European Union’s demand – that countries that are high GHG emitters but still considered to be developing should also pay into the fund – received support from SIDS as well. This demand refers to China and India, the 1st and 3rd highest GHG emitters, as well as newly wealthy countries like Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and South Korea. 

In this context, India’s role in the LDF is yet to be seen. On one hand, India faces increasing and severe climate risks, having ranked 7th on the Global Climate Risk Index 2021. CEEW’s recent study on climate vulnerabilities also suggests that 27 of 35 states and UTs are highly vulnerable to extreme hydro-met disasters and their compounded impacts. On the other hand, despite India’s limited historical contribution to the problem (in contrast with developed countries), rising energy demands and the current emissions trajectory may make it challenging for the country to position itself solely as a beneficiary of the LDF. 

This ambiguity is not unique to India; the mechanisms of the functioning of LDF are yet to be discussed and decided. In the words of Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International, “It is a big breakthrough, nonetheless. The creation of this fund has sent a warning shot to polluters that they can no longer go scot-free with their climate destruction. From now on, they will have to pay up for the damages they cause and are accountable to the people who are facing supercharged storms, devastating floods, and rising seas. Countries must now work together to ensure that the new fund can become fully operational and respond to the most vulnerable people and communities.”  

For further insights on the LDF, read Amitabh Sinha’s recent article in The Indian Express that details the long journey of L&D, and remaining challenges. 

Key takeaways from COP27 

A man is seen fishing around a flooded house.
West Bengal, India  | © Ranita Roy
Reflecting the needs of developing and least-developed countries in the global South, negotiations this year had climate finance front and centre, focusing on funding for adaptation and L&D. We have distilled a few key developments from COP27 below, outlining the progress we made as well as the challenges that remain.  

Adaptation | Measures that address the impacts of climate change 
  • To provide an update on the global status and progress of the adaptation process across three elements, planning, financing, and implementation, the UNEP launched the Adaptation Gap Report 2022 at COP27. This report suggests that adapting to the climate crisis could cost developing countries anywhere from USD 160-340 billion annually by 2030. This number could rise to over USD 565 billion by 2050 if climate change accelerates. As a start, the Adaptation Fund received over USD 230 million in 2022 for the most climate vulnerable countries from states and development agencies. 
  • The Sharm-El-Sheikh Implementation Plan recognises the urgency of this report, calling for developed countries to scale up their provision of climate finance, technology transfer, and capacity building to support developing countries’ adaptation needs. 
  • Going forward, countries must focus on both mitigation and adaptation actions to address climate impacts. This is particularly relevant, given prominent scientists’ warning that the potential to adapt to climate change is not limitless. Investing in mitigation could be a way to reduce the need to invest in adaptation and resilience. 
Mitigation | Reducing emissions that cause climate change 
  • The UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2022 provides an updated assessment of the gap between our current predicted trajectory of global GHG emissions and where we need to be in 2030.  
  • As a reminder, the Implementation Plan reiterates that limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels requires “rapid, deep and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of 43% by 2030 relative to the 2019 level”.  
  • Yet, there is concern that COP27 did not raise ambition for cutting fossil fuel emissions, making no real progress since COP26. For example, the Implementation Plan does not address India’s call to phase out all fossil fuels, including gas and oil, due to the ongoing energy crisis in different parts of the world - aggravated by Russia’s war on Ukraine, effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and rising gas prices. As India has publicly stated, a just energy transition must recognise the significance of low-carbon development, over decarbonisation, and independence in our choice of energy mix. 
Loss & Damage | Compensating poor and developing countries for the impacts of warming caused by high-emitting countries 
  • Complementing progress in adaptation negotiations, COP27 ended with a historic announcement for the establishment of a Loss & Damage fund (LDF), to address climate impacts in developing countries. 
  • Further, as one-third of the world, including 60% of Africa, does not have access to early warning and climate information services, a USD 3.1 billion plan was announced to ensure everyone is protected by early warning systems in the next 5 years. This WMO-UN plan recognises the need for a robust global climate observing system, and how this can improve our understanding of climate-related risks, tipping points and adaptation limits.  
Just Transition | Ensuring that low-carbon transitions are inclusive 
  • India submitted its Long-Term Low-Carbon Development Strategy, which notes, among other things, that “financing a just transition will require supporting social and physical infrastructure, ecological restoration of affected areas, building capabilities of communities, and to seed new livelihood generating activities.” This development is particularly relevant in context of the G7’s USD 20 billion financing deal to speed up Indonesia’s transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and the G7’s declaration of support in June 2022 for India’s just energy transition. 
  • The European Union and the ILO launched the first ever Just Transition Pavilion at COP27, where speakers took stock of just transition commitments and measures globally. This Pavilion will build on key strategies and instruments, including the ILO’s guidelines, towards the Paris Agreement’s imperative of a just transition. 
  • COP27 also recognised that, apart from expanding energy access and sustaining fiscal stability, developing countries are facing newer transition risks, such as stranded assets and negative spill-over effects from climate action in advanced economies. Several high-level events were held touching upon the finance, technology and capacity required by emerging economies to transition. 
Now almost halfway between the Paris Agreement and the 2030 deadline to limit global warming to 1.5°C over pre-industrial levels, we have “much homework and little time”. As UN Secretary General António Guterres rightly concluded at COP27, the world needs to take a giant leap on climate ambition. 

Learn more about the decisions taken at COP27

Visionary voices: Perspectives on India’s climate crisis 

An old man is seen carrying his belongings on a temporary shaft.
West Bengal, India  | © Ranita Roy
To guide ambition that can address India’s climate risks and development challenges, we need voices that develop a bold vision for the climate ecosystem, and prioritise collective, people-first climate action. We highlight 3 critical voices on climate, who were recently featured in Business India’s November 2022 edition ‘COP27: Success or Failure?’. 
Mirik Gogri | Sustainability Investor, Spectrum Impact – Family Office of Aarti Industries Ltd.’s Promoters  

What philanthropists can offer’ reflects on how philanthropists can better support the climate innovation landscape, and how they must pay attention to both development-minded mitigation and adaptation efforts as we advance. Mirik writes, “To drive philanthropy towards climate investments, the mindset must expand from assured immediate impact to the potential for long-term impact.” 
Read now
Sameer Shisodia | CEO, Rainmatter Foundation  

New imagination, new methods’ introduces us to how Sameer perceives our climate challenges. He encourages us to dig deeper before devising climate solutions, and first explore how to frame the climate crisis. Highlighting the interconnectedness of different systems, Sameer dwells on the dangers of problem-solving in silos, and how climate is a ‘place’ problem. 
Read now
Nyrika Holkar | Executive Director, Godrej & Boyce Co. Ltd.  

Bend the curve on nature loss’ considers the value of nature’s ecosystem services and the consequences of extreme climate events. Nyrika delves into the need for sustainable production, the significance of traditional knowledge, and the incorrect implementation of Nature-based Solutions. To sustainably reverse nature loss, she writes, we need to restore our life support systems and co-exist with nature – instead of trying to control it for economic growth. 
Read now

Demystifying high-impact climate solutions | ICC at the India CSR Summit 2022  

Homes deserted because of the flood.
West Bengal, India  | © Ranita Roy
As India’s corporates move towards a spectrum of sustainability commitments and targets, it’s clear that CSR funding is ripe to support climate action. However, key challenges remain for funders in terms of identifying, understanding, and measuring the impact of suitable climate solutions. 

Recognising this gap, we exhibited our ongoing work on climate solutions at the India CSR Summit 2022, co-hosted by NGOBOX and CSRBOX in New Delhi on 15-16 November, 2022. This included a session titled ‘Transforming India’s Climate Future’, where we highlighted the different types of climate solutions and identified how they intersect with other development priorities. We also showcased the work of three of our partners – SayTrees, Mahila Housing Trust, and SEEDS across agroforestry, urban resilience, and risk assessment. 

As a part of this session, we also heard from three eminent CSR funders - Ashwini Saxena (CEO, JSW Foundation), Rumi Mallick Mitra (Global Head, Director, CSR, EY Global Delivery Services), and Foram Nagori (Head CSR & Trustee – Tata Power Community Development & Trust), about the barriers and opportunities for CSR funding to climate solutions. Interesting insights from this conversation include the need for collaboration within the ecosystem – both among CSR initiatives to generate the long-term, patient capital that is needed for projects to scale and to mitigate individual risk; as well as between start-ups and grassroots organisations to bring innovation to the ground-level and enable more context-informed solutions. Outside of this session, we also hosted a booth to popularise our ongoing work on the Climate Solutions Platform – a one-stop digital platform to connect funders with high-impact climate solutions – among both non-profits/start-ups and CSR representatives who were attending the conference. 

Learn more

What we're reading

Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) releases water due to unprecedented rainfall.
West Bengal, India  | © Ranita Roy
  • Arunabha Ghosh’s and Shikha Bhasin’s latest article about how India can speak and act on behalf of the global South to ensure the new L&D financing facility delivers 
  • Context’s (Thomson Reuters Foundation) perspective on how climate shocks and pressures are driving displacement in vulnerable geographies, and the need for investment in better early warning systems 
  • The Independent High-Level Expert Group on Climate Finance’s latest report, which suggests that developing countries might require an additional USD 1 trillion per year of external finance by 2030 

What we're listening to

A fisherman is seen walking alongside the river before the rainy season.
West Bengal, India | © Ranita Roy
  • Insights from Aisha Khan, Founder & Head, Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change (Pakistan) at COP27, on the development and humanitarian challenges caused by Pakistan’s floods
  • The World Bank’s session at COP27 on how putting human capital at the heart of climate policies can deliver good outcomes for both people and the planet
  • Green Pulse’s latest podcast episode on the urgent need for poor countries to adapt to climate change, and whether there is a limit to adapting to climate change

What we're watching

Three kids are crossing a flooded field with their their school bags on their heads. 
West Bengal, India  | © Ranita Roy
  • Earth HQ’s short film ‘New Science on Dangerous Tipping Points’ that premiered at COP27 
  • A recent animation from the International Institute for Environment and Development about how communities in Nepal are experiencing the reality of loss and damage from climate change 
  • Ghost Animation’s animated short film ‘Wade’, shortlisted by our partner ALT.EFF in their 2020 festival, captures the fictionalised journey of climate change refugees who are ambushed by a tiger on the flooded streets of Kolkata 
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