# A Sustainable Future: Quamrul Chowdury, G-77 and Bangladesh Lead Climate Negotiator, on COP27 Expectations

### Listen to Jason Mitchell discuss with Quamrul Chowdury, COP27 Lead Climate Negotiator, about what to expect from COP27 and what’s at stake for the most climate-vulnerable countries.

What is COP27 set to accomplish? Listen to Jason Mitchell discuss with Quamrul Chowdury, COP27 Lead Climate Negotiator, about what to expect going into COP27, how G-77 and LDC negotiating positions are taking shape, and what’s at stake for the most climate-vulnerable countries.

Recording date: 21 October 2022

Quamrul Chowdury

Quamrul Chowdury has been a climate negotiator for over thirty years. He serves as a Lead Climate and Sustainable Development Negotiator of the 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and 134 G-77 Developing Countries at UN bodies including UNFCCC and UNCBD. He’s also a part of the Bangladesh climate negotiation team. He served as Chair of UN Kyoto Protocol Joint Implementation Committee and was a member of UN Climate Adaptation Committee as a nominee of the developing countries.

## Episode Transcript

##### Note: This transcription was generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers and may contain errors. As a part of this process, this transcript has also been edited for clarity.

Jason Mitchell:

I'm Jason Mitchell, Head of Responsible Investment Research at Man Group. You're listening to A Sustainable Future, a podcast about what we're doing today to build a more sustainable world tomorrow.

Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the podcast, and I hope everyone is staying well. COP27 starts up next week in Sharm El Sheikh, and in many respects, the agenda will be very different from COP26. As host, Egypt will have a pronounced focus on developing economies. Which will drive a number of controversial wedge issues to the forefront.

So this episode is an opportunity to pull back the curtains around the negotiating position of the G77, and the least developing countries or LDC block. There's a lot to reveal here.

Cutting carbon emissions remains a priority, but there's a noticeable shift towards climate adaptation, which raises the stakes for the most climate vulnerable nations. That means the loss and damage dialogue will be a key discussion topic surrounding compensation to poor countries. But as you'll hear, developing countries have arguably well-deserved suspicions about the underlying climate motivations by the Global North, and a clear frustration about being held victim, sometimes, to the US electoral cycle and its impact on climate negotiations.

It's why I'm excited to have Quamrul Chowdhury on the podcast. He joins me from Dhaka, Bangladesh, on his way to COP27. I can think of few people more qualified with the experience to talk about the negotiating positions of the developing countries. We talk about what to expect going into COP27, how the LDC and G77 negotiating positions are taking shape, and what's at stake when we think about the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable countries.

Quamrul has been a climate negotiator for over 30 years. He serves as a lead climate and sustainable development negotiator of the 48 least developing countries, or LDCs. And 134 G77, developing countries at UN bodies, including the UNFCCC and UNCBD. He's also a part of the Bangladesh climate negotiation team. He served as chair of the UN Kyoto Protocol Joint Implementation Committee, and was a member of the UN Climate Adaptation Committee as a nominee of the developing countries.

Welcome to the podcast, Quamrul Chowdhury. It's great to have you here, and thank you for taking the time.

Quamrul Chowdhury:

Thank you, Justin, for having this conversation with me.

Jason Mitchell:

Excellent. Well, let's jump in, because it's obviously incredibly timely right before COP27, and there is a lot to go through. But first Quamrul, I think it's probably best to start with a little bit of scene setting. And I want to go back a year ago, just as COP26 in Glasgow was finishing. What were your thoughts then, coming out of COP26? Were you hopeful? Is COP27 a natural continuation of COP26? Or is it an opportunity to reset, given the energy crisis and the shift towards developing countries?

Quamrul Chowdhury:

You are absolutely right. Listen, we are at Glasgow COP26 last year, it was, say, some hard to sell base the sinking ship. United States, withdrawn from the Paris Agreement from 2016 under Donald Trump. But so Biden, last year after his inauguration on January 19, he did first return back to Paris Agreement. That gave momentum. But that momentum, frankly speaking, was not fully utilized at Glasgow COP26 last year, last November.

And the expectation of the world was raised, but that was best from developing country perspective. Global South didn't expect that it could deliver that. And Glasgow Climate fact to me, to my mind, is half glass full up plus empty. Yes, we had our faith in multiculturalism, that was the success of Glasgow COP26. But most of the items or hards couldn't be cracked at plus, and shifted to either Sharm El Sheikh or to Dubai next year. Or say next year at Australia, where COP29 will be.

From developing countries perspective, our expectations are not. So this time, as you ask me, either we can seize the opportunity. Yes, I see lot of opportunities. What we can make at Glasgow can make if the political oil is there. But that political oil must come from these seven countries, the racist countries, the most industrialized countries who have caused the global climate surge. The carbon emission, the historical emitters, they must say, come up to support the developing countries. Especially Global 7. Global North, G7 countries, G20 countries, should come fast. Should lead from the front. Not only cutting back emissions drastically, but also supporting the developing countries to have a low carbon development growth farther.

Jason Mitchell:

Yeah, I see. What in your mind is the significance of Egypt, a lower middle income nation, hosting this year's COP, in terms of pressuring developed countries to commit to that promised $100 billion in annual climate financing to poorer countries? Quamrul Chowdhury: I think it is trying its best. But it has also a lot of limitations. But it's a multi-level negotiation. Many are countries, so almost 200 countries, 200 parties are negotiating. Its just presiding, going preside over. And also current presidency, Ukraine will also be over there. And also next year, UAE is going to host COP28. So this have to work very closely, and that can make headway, much headway, especially cracking the hardness, collapsing the red lights. That need lot of political [inaudible 00:08:25], lot of political pressure, especially not only from Global South, also from people from Global North should pressurize on their leaders. Because if leaders can't agree on... For example, say for a doubling or quadrupling adaptation finance leaders, especially these seven countries should decide, should come up with a new package, new collective quantified goal for climate finance, say trillions of dollars, finance gap as IPCC spending report came up. That there are trillions of dollars, not only adaptation gap, also mitigation gap. So those trillions of dollars every year needs to be funded for climate adaptation, finance loss and damage finance, finance for mitigation, finance for capacity building, and also technology transfer. But that is yet to be mobilized. Not even...$100 billion were supposed to be mobilized every year from 2020. 2020 fast by, 2021, fast away. And we are now at the end of 2022. Where are those $300 billion? Jason Mitchell: For me, there's a real sense I'm picking up that we're, and I hate to sound pessimistic, but that we're already almost too late going into COP27 for the reasons you just mentioned. Quamrul Chowdhury: And also, you see, IPCC AR6. Jason Mitchell: Yes. Quamrul Chowdhury: Our scientists are quite loud and clear. Though they gave a very conservative assessment, not the real assessment. Jason Mitchell: Yes. Quamrul Chowdhury: Our conservative assessment of a real situation. And they say that we are approaching 1.5 degrees. We are almost, I say 1.2. And every countries, Europe this year, face the, let's say, music. The heats, the cold, the polar ice is melting, trusted even than our focus. Our scientists predicted. They focus, but it is beyond that. So they also say, IPCC AR6, will say that soft limit of adaptation is almost exhausted, and hard limit is fast approaching. So we need to cut back our emission quite fast, even before 2030. If you want to keep 1.5 degree global goal as and shine in very segment alive. So for that, we need to rise to the occasion. We need to massively invest in cutting back our emissions, providing newer technologies to every country, especially developing countries, vulnerable countries who are not at all responsible for these climate catastrophes. Jason Mitchell: You mentioned the IPCC's six assessment. And absolutely, they make a pretty explicit point that already, there's the need to kind of start focusing on adaptations funding, not just mitigation funding. When you look at the, even the mix of funding pledges within that currently$80 billion, there's a clear trend where adaptation is growing by a much smaller amount. But the mitigation funding is actually declining. And I guess on this point, we should be focused on mitigation, but it seems like there's already this undercurrent that is sort of moving towards the adaptation phase, particularly for developing countries. Am I right?

Quamrul Chowdhury:

Yeah, you are absolutely right. We need to mobilize a lot of resources for mitigation. A lot of resources for mitigation to cut back our emissions. Because we need to act fast to stop climate stress. But we are not doing that.

Even Russian Ukraine war gave us a lesson that we shouldn't depend on fossil fuels. We shouldn't depend on Russia. We shouldn't depend on those countries. We need to shift to renewable pathways. And for that we need to stop fossil fuel subsidies, and shift a portion, or big portion, of that for mitigation measures, actions, investment, climate finance.

Should we like say we need to mobilize resources like after second World War Marshall Plan created that momentum, that opportunities. Immediately after Second World War, better institutions mobilize under Marshall Plan. Millions of dollars. Now, we need to mobilize trillions of dollars, as IPCC is saying. Now finance...

So, we need to mobilize that. That should be hammered by President Joe Biden or new UK Prime Minister [inaudible 00:14:30], and others. So that these seven countries mobilized trillions of dollars, not only to overcome the current crisis in recovery after COVID, but also economically recovery.

And also climate recovery. We need a huge, huge amount of resources. And least developed countries, or climate vulnerable countries, or small island developing estates, or Global South don't have resources, have capacities, have technologies. So for that to make a smooth transition to renewable world, non-carbon world, we need to invest trillions of dollars every year for that.

Jason Mitchell:

How do you see the challenges over the past year, namely, you mentioned earlier the Russia Ukraine conflict, but particularly the energy affordability and energy inflation problem. How do they complicate the COP27 proceedings? Challenges-

Quamrul Chowdhury:

Yeah, yeah. It has a complicated COP27 proceedings because many countries, because our politicians, our leaders, they always look at four year power cycle, or five year election cycle. So many of them are in a that threshold. So they don't look after four years or five year cycle. They are more interested in that four year cycle, three year cycle, five year cycle, eyeing on their next election, re-election.

So we need to, say Russia and Ukraine War, and also COVID situation gave a huge use inflationary pressure on them. And also prices, especially price of host foods. So many countries, especially for example, Bangladesh, countries like Bangladesh suffered a lot. Food crisis, energy crisis. So under that pressure, I think COP27 is going to help, help US, UK, every country are now facing challenges.

Jason Mitchell:

Loss and damages were a very divisive topic back at COP26 in Glasgow. The LDCs, or least developed countries, called for the establishment of a dedicated loss and damage facility that at risk, climate vulnerable nations could instantly access to recover from extreme events. But that was denied, obviously, by richer nations. What do you expect out of the loss and damage dialogue, which was offered as an alternative ahead of COP27 and begins in November? What changes do you expect out of COP27 around loss and damages?

Quamrul Chowdhury:

I think there are some positive movements on this front, loss and damage front. Even EU parliament now recognize that loss and damage is offering, and we must need to address that. Even US is also realizing that. But, they are not acting, especially in Sharm El Sheikh. Their negotiators, their leaders might not respond in that way as they realized.

And that is the irony. We have been raising this issue, not in Glasgow alone. We have been talking about this issue since 1991, 1992. We are wrapping this dear convention's framework on climate sense in 1992, under ICN in New York. And also we raise it in Rio in 1992. Then also at first in Berlin in 1995, we raised, AOCs small island, developing countries and raised... But they didn't give a hit. The G7 countries didn't accept it. Even in Paris. Something Struck out from the negotiating test, the word compensation. You remember that? Huh? Just-

Jason Mitchell:

Oh, I'm sorry. Yes.

Quamrul Chowdhury:

Yeah, yeah. Say [inaudible 00:19:42] removed that phrase compensation. And in Paris say decision takes, there was a phrase that compensation would make, say liabilities or all these, right? Because of the insistence of US. But after returning from Paris in 2015, that Donald Trump came in and withdrawn the USA from Paris Agreement. So we made that concession over there. And then US just, withdrawn. Okay, Joe Biden came in last year, and re-joined Paris agreement. Remember in 1997 after Kyoto Protocol, again, assuming Bush didn't ratify that which was negotiated by Al Gore as vice president of United States. And he also asked us to make a concession. And we did that concession, because of the insistence of Al Gore. But Al Gore didn't win that presidential election and he had to make concession. He got concession from us and in return he had to conceal. He had to accept defeat and conceal concession in his own country.

Jason Mitchell:

At the UN General Assembly this past September, I noted that the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres pushed a somewhat controversial proposal to tax windfall profits of fossil fuel companies, and then direct the funds to countries suffering from loss and damages caused by climate change. How do you think about that? What are some of the other alternatives?

Quamrul Chowdhury:

Oh, well it was just an idea, I suppose. You made lot of progress out of fossil fuel this time. This year. Though, so many countries are in miseries, but fossil fuel companies, they made huge, huge gains. So can't you contribute here? You can raise trillions of dollars from here out of their profits gains. And you can up and run, the loss in them is finance especially for the Global South, that is not going to happen because that political will or that political [inaudible 00:22:38] or seniority is missing. Without infusing that sort of great philosopher, great politician, master politician, we simply can't address loss and damage issue. And this scope...

Jason Mitchell:

I was going to say I do know that, I mean some donor governments have started to emphasize access to insurance, things like the Ensure Resilience Partnership for Developing Countries for Loss and Damages. How realistic a solution do you think this is? Or is this insurance simply-

Quamrul Chowdhury:

Insurance is also a mechanism to support your private sector, to support your insurance companies. Insurance companies are all from Global North, so that way, you are also trying to maximize your profits. And again, research transfer to your countries in the name of insurance, loss and damage insurance. You are trying to maximize your profit [inaudible 00:23:46] gains. You have exploited the developing countries, Global South for many decades. So now reduce that, try to reduce that.

Jason Mitchell:

It's a really provocative point you've made, and I've heard you talk about this before, the fact that the private sector is inherently more attracted to climate mitigation, because of its profit margin potential versus climate adaptation. How do you think that shapes the way the LDCs should work with the private sector going forward? Or does that simply make the LDCs more dependent on developed countries, rather than the private sector?

Quamrul Chowdhury:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So your dependence on Global North, dependence on Russia for oil, or some other dictarian countries. If we accept that private sector in adaptation, all on a sudden, then again we're swallowing the bitter pill of private sector of developed countries. And that will also make a huge transfer of resources from Global South to Global North in the name of adaptation, in the name of loss and damages.

So that is not a realistic proposition. And in adaptation, in loss and damages, I think private sector will not be interested. They are interested for mitigation users. Because there are topics, there are lot of opportunities. But for adaptation, it's like global public boost, or national public boost, national public services. So for that, private sector is very shy, because their profit mongering is not that much, or very little.

So they are not interested for that providing their support. Therefore, I think the students of the global leaders should be concentrated on climate adaptation and loss and damages, on public grand support, grand finance or solidarity fund, adaptation fund, green climate fund. That, or they should least develop country fund, special climate fund, that oil, they should mobilize resources not through private sector. Because private sector we know the [inaudible 00:26:44]. But that [inaudible 00:26:47] didn't work in many southern countries, especially on primary front. Especially on adaptation and loss and damages. So far.

Therefore, we shouldn't try to waste our time right now when we need to speed up. We need to accelerate our actions. We hardly have any time. We can't afford that, because more than 3.6 billion people are on the hook of adverse impacts of climate change in the Global South. So we need to have some emergency actions, emergency response, and try to rescue these 3.6 billion people who are on the hook of adverse impact of climate stress.

Jason Mitchell:

Let me ask you another question. One of the biggest achievements from COP26 was solving Article Six, and establishing a set of rules to govern the use of carbon markets to help countries to meet their nationally determined contributions, or NDCs. What's your read on the applications of Article Six, those carbon markets for developing countries? Realistically, DC Article Six is a credible source of climate finance for developing countries given its share of proceeds going towards mitigation and resilience.

Quamrul Chowdhury:

I think it can help solve problem partially, not fully. Because if we remember the CDM and under mechanism, clean development mechanism, market mechanism design implementation. I was head of the implementation supervisory committee, vice chair of the [inaudible 00:28:42] that community for many years.

So I know that market mechanism is so distorted. And also prices plummeted like that many foolish. You see, from \$60 it plummeted to 60 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents. Why? You have made the market mechanism. And you dictate, you manipulated that. You distorted that. And CDM clean development mechanism, we say that it is a Sinai India mechanism, or same couple of countries bought that benefit, the rest of the countries couldn't get that benefit.

So this time, we need to learn lessons. We shouldn't blame others, we should try to take lessons from the first mistakes and try to establish or ensure the integrity of the system. Article Six is that integrity, but if it is only in the Hollywood, not in practice that will not do. Because some of the countries might make some in the process. Even double counting, triple counting can happen. So we need to avoid all that distortion, and try to ensure the integrity of the system. Transparency, accountability, monitoring is essential. And for that, we need a robust Article Six mechanism.

Jason Mitchell:

I'd like to change lanes just a little bit, maybe talk about the negotiated mechanics behind COPs. Can you pull back the curtains on the LDC and G77 negotiating tactics? How rigid are those negotiating lines? And what does, I guess in negotiator speak, what does a BATNA, or best alternative to a negotiated agreement look like, from a climate perspective?

Quamrul Chowdhury:

Within the G77, 48 least developed countries are BATNA course. There are also small island developing these states. There are also past developing countries and middle income countries. So we need to, at times, make compromise to strike a balance between this diverse group. But all said and done, we try to have organization within the G77 and China.

But, we need to also negotiate with umbrella countries led by USA, Australia, Japan, and others. And also Integrity Group led by Switzerland, South Korea, Mexico, and others. Then also EU and it's [inaudible 00:32:22].

So with these groups, G7 countries, G20 countries. So make compromises. We need to even go for second best. Not the fast best as in economies. At times, we need to go for second best solutions like that. So for that, we have to make lot of compromises. But for all of us striking our common landing zone, common denominator, but that denominator shouldn't be at the lowest of the low. We need to raise our ambitions so that we can fix 1.5 degree, and try to even not overshoot, but undershoot.

Jason Mitchell:

So it's been fascinating to discuss what to expect going into COP27. How the LDC and G77 negotiating positions are taking shape, and what's at stake when we think about the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable countries.

I'd like to really thank you for your time and insights. I'm Jason Mitchell, head of Responsible Investment Research at Man Group, here today with Quamrul Chowdhury, lead negotiator for the LDC Group and the G77.

Many thanks for joining us on A Sustainable Future, and I hope you'll join us on our next podcast episode. Quamrul, thank you so much. This has been incredibly enlightening and insightful going into COP27.

Quamrul Chowdhury:

Thank you very, very much, Jason.

Jason Mitchell:

I'm Jason Mitchell, thanks for joining us. Special thanks to our guests and, of course, everyone that helped produce this show. To check out more episodes of this podcast, please visit us at man.com/ri-podcast.