OTTAWA — The world’s wealthiest countries didn’t meet a decade-old goal to provide the developing world with US$100 billion in climate aid by 2020 and won’t actually get there for another two years, a new analysis showed Monday.
The news is expected to cast a pall over next week’s United Nations COP26 climate talks in Scotland. The meeting is meant to finalize the rule book for meeting the 2015 Paris climate change targets, and lay out more ambitious plans to slow global warming.
It was also supposed to start the talks to see developed countries go above the $100-billion-a-year mark in contributions after 2025 to help developing countries and small-island states meet, adapt to and mitigate against climate change.
Those nations are often the most impacted by climate change, but are the least responsible for the global emissions causing global warming to date. Many only agreed to join the Paris agreement in 2015 because of the climate finance pledge made by the wealthiest nations in the world.
Harjeet Singh, a senior adviser at Climate Change Action Network International, said climate finance is “fundamental” and the missed targets for aid are going to erode the trust between the developed world and everyone else.
“What has been delivered today is a delayed plan,” he said in a media briefing Monday. “And then we expect developing countries to come up with a plan where they are going to change their policies for greener development. How can that happen?”
The climate finance plan outlined Monday is the result of a collaboration between Canadian Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Germany’s state secretary for the environment, Jochen Flasbarth. The two were asked in July, by COP26 president designate Alok Sharma, to figure out exactly what the financing pledges are through to 2025.
Canada announced last spring it would double its climate aid to more than C$1 billion a year for the next five years, or about US$855 million. Germany announced it would increase its contribution by 50 per cent, to $6 billion euros, or about US$7.3 billion a year, by 2025.
Wilkinson and Flasbarth then spent the last three months wrangling new commitments out of other countries, and Flasbarth said “not all of our conversations were really seen to be polite.”
New Zealand and Sweden are among the countries that responded with new pledges. Thus far Italy, hosting the G20 leaders’ summit later this week, is the most notable on the list of countries that haven’t yet increased their climate finance promise.
Flasbarth said he understands the disappointment developing nations have in the totals so far but believes the results of the recent efforts will allow for constructive progress in Glasgow.
The OECD concluded last month that climate finance reached almost US$80 billion in 2019, but was unlikely to get to $100 billion by the end of 2020. The actual results for 2020 won’t be analyzed until next year, but Wilkinson and Flasbarth said it’s already pretty clear the total didn’t hit $100 billion.
They said with new contributions pledged in the last few months annual climate financing will get to about $97 billion next year, and finally hit $100 billion in 2023.
“It’s disappointing that we didn’t get there in 2020 but I think most people understood that we weren’t (going to),” said Wilkinson in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“I think the positive part of this is we actually have a pathway to get there potentially in 2022, certainly in 2023 and the numbers go up in 2024 and 2025. That’s actually a big step forward.”
Sharma said Monday the higher amounts in 2024 and 2025 mean the total for the five years will be close to the $500 billion expected in that time frame.
The report also says a lack of private investments has been the biggest barrier to achieving the goal. Critics also say too much of the funding for climate finance has been in the form of loans, rather than grants, and not enough is flowing to the poorest countries.
Sharma, Flasbarth and Wilkinson acknowledged not meeting the 2020 goal has eroded trust between developed and developing countries in the world. But they say they hope this plan showing a path to get there will provide confidence.
“Today I think we are telling countries around the world that they can trust in the goals that we collectively established in the fight against climate change,” Wilkinson said in a media event Monday morning. “This is a critical moment to deliver on a critical promise.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2021.
Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press