KINSHASA – Environment ministers from some 50 countries will meet in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday for a “pre-COP27” climate summit where wealthy nations are likely to come under pressure to increase spending on climate change.
The talks in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, are informal but aim to allow various countries and green groups to take stock of their political positions ahead of COP27 – the UN climate meeting of world leaders in Egypt next month.
An opening ceremony will take place at the Congolese Parliament headquarters in Kinshasa, followed by discussions on climate change mitigation and the provision of finance to countries already affected by global warming and severe weather.
Delegates from around 50 countries are expected at the talks, including US Climate Commissioner John Kerry.
“The focus will certainly be on the support of developed countries for countries in the South,” a Western diplomat said recently.
The last COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow in November 2021 reiterated the goal agreed in Paris in 2015 to limit the increase in the earth’s average temperature to well below 2.0 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.
This goal may already be unachievable because the Earth’s temperature is already 1.2°C warmer than it was before the industrial revolution of the 19th century.
Poorer countries had been pushing for a financial mechanism in Glasgow to deal with loss and damage from climate change.
But the wealthiest countries – the biggest polluters – refused the call and participants instead agreed to start a “dialogue” on financial compensation for damages.
Egypt, which hosts COP27, made its pledge to curb global warming a priority at the November summit.
Poorer countries are likely to remind their richer counterparts again of the need to increase their financial support.
The latter have so far not kept their promise to provide 100 billion dollars a year to help developing countries limit climate change.
Demands for climate justice were at the heart of a demonstration in Kinshasa last month, in which young Congolese activists chanted slogans and demanded that world leaders act quickly rather than repeat old promises.
The Congolese government should also send the message that it needs funding to protect its vast rainforests, which act as a carbon sink.
About 30 billion tons of carbon are stored in the entire Congo Basin, researchers estimated in a study for Nature from 2016. That figure roughly corresponds to three years of global emissions.
However, the Central African nation launched an auction for 30 blocks of oil and gas in July, ignoring warnings from environmentalists that their exploitation could damage ecosystems and release large amounts of heat-trapping gas.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the poorest countries in the world, says drilling for oil and gas can help diversify its economy and benefit the Congolese people.