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G20 .. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Feb 24 : India's G20 Presidency is an opportune moment to push for the "very strong political signal" to set the ambition expectations for COP28 and the Global Stocktake, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell said at the World Sustainable Development Summit here on Friday.

"We are coming to the end of the technical phase of the Global Stocktake. But it is the following phase, the political piece, that requires elevation. It can only be affected by the political will and the support of all parties.

"In terms of moving the needle and within the G20, it is an opportune moment with India taking on the presidency," observed Stiell at 'Towards Equity and Climate Justice', a high-level session on COP28.

The Executive Secretary noted that while the Global Stocktake, which is set to conclude at COP28 in the UAE this year, is an opportunity to look at "where we are and where we are not", and is more importantly, "an opportunity to course correct".

"The response to the Global Stocktake has the greatest value. We are far from where we need to be," he said.

Addressing the critical issue of climate finance, Stiell highlighted that it continues to be an "elephant in every negotiating room". He pointed out that COP29 will be a finance COP where the delivery of the new, collective quantified goal on finance where "the billions are supposed to transform into the trillions" will be deliberated upon.

He added that a lot of work still needs to be done on the Loss and Damage Fund agreed upon at COP27.

Observing that the Loss and Damage Agreement at Sharm el-Sheikh provided hope to many low-income countries bearing the brunt of climate change, Naseer Ahamed, Minister of Environment, Sri Lanka, said it also left a lot of questions unanswered.

"The question now is how to populate the fund and how to disburse it. As one of the most vulnerable countries on the frontline of a climate crisis facing large-scale biodiversity loss, Sri Lanka has recognised the need for a greater collective voice for urgent, speedy and equitable execution of the loss and damage fund." The Sri Lankan minister mooted the need to form a Climate Justice Forum to amplify the interests of like-minded climate vulnerable developing countries.

Speaking at the session, Leena Nandan, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, emphasised the need to focus on the global goal of adaptation (GGA) at this year's COP28.

"That is where support is required, and that is what equity demands," said Nandan, adding, "as a developing country, we need much more focus on GGA, we need much more focus on loss and damage, and for the mechanisms for loss and damage to be in place. Having taken so long in mainstreaming loss and damage, let's not waste any more time".

Noting that COP28 has to make significant progress on the Loss and Damage Fund, Jennifer Morgan, State Secretary and Special Envoy for International Climate Action, Federal Foreign Office, Germany, said the focus will be on structuring the governance of the new fund and attracting innovative ways to finance it.

On the $100 billion goal, Morgan added, "It is clear the $100 billion has to be met. We have to perform." Moderating the discussion, R.R. Rashmi, Distinguished Fellow, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), highlighted the need to evolve a framework for the upcoming COP28 where the focus is on GGA, climate finance and Global Stocktake.

Emphasising that COP28 should make real and tangible progress on substance, not just on process, Siddharthan Balasubramanian, Senior Advisor, ClimateWorks Foundation said: "I hope COP28 can withstand, wither away the shocks and deliver and focus on climate action." Henning Wuester, Director, Initiative for Climate Action Transparency, said transparency is "actually a leadership issue and transparency is critical for the Global Stocktake. Without good data and sound information, the stocktake cannot really deliver."

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