Press release

The climate crisis must not undermine development

05.09.2019, Climate justice

In a position paper, Alliance Sud presents the links between climate justice and development cooperation and calls for Switzerland to fulfil its financial responsibility and the Paris Agreement.

The climate crisis must not undermine development

Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital two meters above sea level, in the monsoon rains on 26 July 2017.
© Abir Abdullah / EPA / Keystone

von Jürg Staudenmann, ehemaliger Fachverantwortlicher «Klima und Umwelt»

Switzerland has assumed international commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015; commitments also exist in the area of development cooperation. In a position paper, Alliance Sud analyses links and trade-offs between these two commitments and calls for Switzerland to meet its financial obligations.

Entitled "Climate Justice and International Climate Financing from a Development Policy Perspective", the paper discusses the purpose and significance of international climate finance in the context of sustainable development. For mitigation (reduction of greenhouse gases) and adaptation (protection against the effects of progressive climate change) in developing countries, the industrialized countries have committed themselves to mobilize an additional 100 billion US dollars as of 2021. – By ratifying the Paris Agreement, Switzerland agreed to make an appropriate annual. Due to its relative climate responsibility and its global economic strength, this fair share amounts to USD 1 billion per year.

While it is true that development and climate measures in developing countries can complement each other in a certain way, Switzerland must not finance this «climate billion» at the expense of existing development cooperation. This is all the more true as the funds for development cooperation still fall well short of the long-promised 0.7% of gross national income (GNI). Switzerland must fulfil its international (financing) obligations in both areas on its own and on an equal footing.

In the paper, Alliance Sud’s climate policy advisor Jürg Staudenmann criticizes the most recently dispatched draft «Strategy for International Cooperation 2021-2024». The Federal Council envisages to earmark up to CHF 400 million per year in the (stagnating) development aid budget for international climate financing. «It’s cynical to sell the same Swiss Franc to developing countries twice, once as official development assistance, and a second time as climate financing», Jürg Staudenmann said. Because climate-sensitive development projects are not yet «climate projects»; and vice-versa: Mitigation or adaptation measures are not aimed at simultaneously reduce poverty or increase living conditions of the poorest.

The paper presents solutions on how these funds can be mobilized on the basis of the polluter pays principle instead. Alliance Sud calls on the Federal Council and the Swiss parliament to take every step necessary to achieve this as a matter of urgency; for instance in the context of the new CO2-act that is debated in Swiss parliament in 2020.

Download the full position paper in its German and French version