COP28: outgoing PM urges conversion of debt into climate finance

Strategy “benefits all humanity”, says Costa

Portugal’s outgoing prime minister has argued today at COP28 that agreements to convert millions of euros of debt into climate finance benefit “all of humanity” and are a necessary step in the fight against climate change.

On the first day of the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference, António Costa dedicated part of his agenda to doing exactly this, signing two agreements with Cabo Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe that provide for the conversion of those countries’ many millions of euros in debts to Portugal into climate finance.

“If there is one thing that we have come to recognise since the COP, it is that the investment effort is essential in developing countries – those that suffer the most from the impacts of climate change, have contributed the least historically, and have the greatest difficulty in making the necessary investments,” said Mr Costa

Giving a speech after the agreements were signed, in the Portuguese Pavilion of the annual event taking place this year in Dubai, the PM explained: “It’s not about restructuring debt; it’s not about Cabo Verde not meeting its obligations; it’s about fulfilling them in an intelligent way” and in so doing, being “a great help to Portugal“.

In an addendum to the memorandum with Cabo Verde, the Portuguese government “forgives” €12 million that will instead be dedicated to two projects until 2025, at which point the agreement will be evaluated and the remaining €140 million of debt can be converted, adds Lusa.

“In the case of São Tomé and Príncipe, funding totalling €3.5 million has been agreed for the next two years, with no projects yet identified”, the State news agency continues.

In Mr Costa’s eyes, this shows that “the CPLP (Community of Portuguese-language Countries) as a whole (has) set an excellent example to the international community of how we can come to the COP not only to make commitments and declarations, but above all to implement actions”. 

The impact of this funding was also emphasised by representatives from Cabo Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe, who agreed on the two island countries’ difficulties in adapting to and mitigating climate change.

“We started talks a few days ago and this shows the pragmatism and efficiency of the Portuguese government,” said São Tomé’s minister of foreign affairs, cooperation and communities, Gareth Guadalupe.

For Cabo Verde, prime minister Ulisses Correia e Silva stressed that the whole plan was a good investment. “Debt cannot be an obstacle to the development cycle“, he said,  calling on other creditor States to follow Portugal’s example.

Mr Costa is in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, until Saturday. He is accompanied by the ministers of foreign affairs and environment and climate action. COP28 itself continues until December 12, by which time the current government is almost certain to have been officially ‘dismissed’ from power by President Marcelo, ahead of legislative elections scheduled for March 10.

Source material: LUSA

Portugal Resident