Alok Sharma to address the African Development Bank in June 2021

Greetings to all of you. And thank you for inviting me to join you today.

My friends, I am absolutely determined that COP26 will be a COP in the service of African nations.

That it will support the countries of this continent to respond to the climate crisis, to seize the opportunities presented by our green global future and to rebuild better from Covid-19, by developing clean, resilient and prosperous economies.

I have witnessed the serious challenges facing African countries.

Already this year I have traveled to Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and Gabon, and more trips are also planned in the coming weeks.

And what I recognize very clearly is that the current health, economic and climate crisis is hitting Africa particularly hard.

And with the ongoing COVID pandemic, economic activity has of course contracted, debt challenges have increased, and the impact of climate change is being felt everywhere.

But what I have also witnessed is the tremendous amount of energy, innovation and vision I have seen from the communities I have visited across the continent and the work that is being done to also fight against the climate crisis.

I fully agree – and I have said this over and over again – that funding is absolutely vital to sustaining ongoing efforts.

And a key priority for the COP presidency – indeed a key priority for me – is to secure funds for climate action, especially to vulnerable regions that have frankly contributed the least to the crisis we are in. all faced.

And that is why we want, through this work, to ensure that each country has the opportunity to build a clean recovery from Covid-19.

I have said it before and I will say it again and I will continue to say it until the COP: without funding, the task before us is almost impossible.

And to respond frankly to all the other priorities of COP26, we will have to take care of the funding.

And whether it is about protecting people and nature from the effects of climate change,

or put the world on the path to reducing emissions, until they reach net zero by the middle of this century,

or this basic principle of keeping this 1.5 degree limit within reach, which of course we have committed to under the Paris agreement, all of this is going to be based on funding.

So I have been quite clear with donor countries that we need to provide the $ 100 billion per year that we have pledged to support developing countries until 2025.

And of course, that means taking action to urgently close this $ 20 billion shortfall from 2018.

As I have said many times, it is a matter of trust.

And this is a priority for the British presidency of COP26, of course, but also for our presidency of the G7.

What I’m positive and happy about is that at the G7 this year, and in the communiqué that came out of it, every country, every leader, pledged to increase funding, including increasing funds for adaptation, which in my opinion is so vitally important.

This mixture between attenuation and adaptation. We cannot let adaptation be continually seen as the poor relation of mitigation.

What we saw at the G7 is that Canada, Japan and Germany are putting money on the table.

Canada has pledged to increase its climate finance to C $ 5.3 billion by 2025. Japan pledged to 6.5 trillion yen by 2025 and Germany to 6 billion euros per year by 2025.

All of this is of course welcome.

But we all know there’s still a lot to do

And we need increased commitments.

And what we need is for the developed countries to establish a clear plan for how this $ 100 billion will be delivered until 2025.

I am absolutely determined to continue to work with all countries and stakeholders to ensure that we achieve this.

Now we also know that we have to deal with other critical issues, such as the whole issue of access to finance – it’s one thing to have money available, but the other issue is how to access.

Questions on concessional financing, on fiscal space, and of course, as I have already said, financing for adaptation.

A new allocation of Special Drawing Rights will help Africa, in terms of strengthening fiscal space.

And therefore, I am very happy that Kristalina Georgieva – who heads the IMF – for the comment they made, but also for the recent commitment of the G7 to explore options for richer countries to channel their own SDRs. to the most vulnerable countries to support healthy, green countries and resilient recoveries.

And as the president of COP26, I want to see a much higher level of recycling of SDRs than we saw after the 2009 crisis.

We also need to ensure that more funding goes directly to adaptation and we need to encourage and support countries to provide locally driven adaptation as well.

My colleagues know, some of you may have attended in March, I called a meeting of ministers and international institutions, and we brought together about fifty governments, to address this crucial issue of finance and much sure of development aligned with this.

And I think we’ve seen real progress?

For example, we now have our friends in Fiji, other partners and the UK leading a working group on access to finance.

And earlier this year, with partners including Egypt and Malawi, the UK launched the Adaptation Action Coalition, where countries can also share and scale solutions, focusing on implementation of a locally led action on adaptation.

Finance ministers have a critical role to play in ensuring that decisions made at all levels of government take into account climate action and climate risks.

And it is absolutely clear that investing in areas like clean energy is not only good for the planet, but ultimately it is also a healthy economy.

We know it because we see it in our own savings

Solar and wind are cheaper than coal and gas in most of the world.

And investing in renewable energy infrastructure creates more than twice as many jobs as the equivalent in fossil fuels, and you will have seen it in a recent study published by the University of Oxford.

So what I think is that every country should have the chance to seize these opportunities as we repair the economic damage caused by Covid-19.

So that we can all collectively build clean and resilient economies, creating the green jobs of the future that we all want to see, and that green growth that will be absolutely vital for the future.

And, of course, multilateral development banks are essential in providing the necessary financing.

Here in Africa, of course, the African Development Bank plays an absolutely vital role.

And I really applaud the Bank’s commitment to devote at least half of its climate finance to adaptation.

And I also recognize the leadership of the Bank with its Adaptation Acceleration Program in Africa.

And I warmly welcome the work the Bank is doing with the private sector through the African Finance Alliance on Climate Change and the African Disaster Risk Finance Program.

And the UK Presidency of COP26 calls on all MDBs, including of course the AfDB, to share a very clear action plan by COP26 on mobilizing more private sector funding. I think it will be absolutely vital: this leverage effect to bring the private sector alongside public finances.

I am of course very happy that the AfDB is considering announcing a date on which it will fully align with the Paris Agreement.

And I urge you, please, to do it before COP26 itself, in accordance with the ambition set by the other MDBs.

I also applaud the support the AfDB provides to help countries develop and provide nationally determined contributions.

And I would really ask the Bank to look at what more it can do to help countries develop even more ambitious NDCs, those long-term strategies that are absolutely vital, and of course national adaptation plans, that we want to see it enter into force before COP26.

The reality is that if we are serious about keeping the goals of the Paris Agreement within reach and limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees, we have to turn coal power into history.

Thus, I am very grateful for the key role of the AfDB in the Energy Transition Council of COP26 that we lead, and of course your support for the Rapid Response Facility, supporting the clean energy transition in Africa.

And I encourage you to update your energy policy in line with President Adesina’s pledge at the United Nations Climate Action Summit to formally end funding for coal,

and stop funding oil and of course limit gas investment to situations where it is part of a planned move towards cleaner energy systems.

I also want the Bank to increase its support for nature,

and sign a joint declaration on nature at COP26 with other MDBs, committing to take into account the impact on nature in all your operations.

And I urge you to help countries to rebuild themselves better from Covid-19, in particular by completing very good regional initiatives such as the Action Plan for a Green Recovery of the African Union, and by prioritizing investments. that help countries build clean and resilient economies.

Because my friends, the green and prosperous future, I believe, is within our grasp.

But only if we take this chance, to rebuild better and rebuild greener.

And if we do, I believe we can protect people and nature, we can preserve our precious planet.

And we can help boost African resilience, African growth and Africa’s development,

Thank you.


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