The developed world has failed to deliver on its commitment to send some $100 billion a year to help poorer countries fight climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report jointly drafted by Canada and Germany ahead of the COP26 summit.
The report, prepared by Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and his German counterpart, Jochen Flasbarth, documents the progress richer countries have made to date in financially supporting other countries with climate change mitigation efforts, but notes the 2009 goal to deliver $100 billion US a year in support by 2020 was almost certainly not met and more aggressive action is needed over the next half-decade to spur change.
The U.K., the host of COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, tasked Canada and Germany with preparing this report ahead of the crucial climate summit to help identify the developed world’s shortcomings and propose solutions to meeting the long-promised financial target.
The $100 billion annual commitment was first made more than a decade ago at COP15 in Copenhagen, Denmark, based on the recognition that the developed world is largely responsible for producing climate change-causing emissions that have now disproportionately affected poorer countries.
The money was pitched as a way to right past wrongs and strengthen collective action to combat climate change — it was also a crucial bargaining chip to get some lower income countries in the “global south” to sign on to emissions-reduction targets set at the Paris climate summit in 2015.
“Over the past several months, we have heard rising concerns that the $100 billion US goal was not met in 2020. We share the disappointment about this,” Wilkinson and Flasbarth write in the report titled “Climate Finance Delivery Plan.” “The significance of meeting this goal cannot be overstated.”
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At a press conference Monday, Wilkinson said that by falling short of the financial commitment, the developed world has “eroded trust.”
“We have done a lot collectively but we fell short. Delivering on the $100 billion is essential to keeping trust on all sides,” Flasbarth said.
Some countries have pledged more than planned
But, the two men said, since Canada and Germany set out to track progress on this financial commitment, some unnamed countries have already stepped up with more money than originally planned, which means the developed world may actually meet its original target in three years’ time.
“There have been additional pledges made over the past six weeks. There are a couple of countries that we expect may yet come forward,” Wilkinson said.
Based on recent estimates from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), climate finance provided and mobilized by developed countries increased from $58.5 billion US in 2016 to $79.6 billion US in 2019 — with countries on track to hit $100 billion by 2023.
To meet and exceed the $100-billion mark, the two environment ministers suggested richer countries have to commit more money on a faster timeline. “Those who have not yet made a pledge should follow suit and come forward with an ambitious climate finance commitment as soon as possible,” the ministers wrote in their report.
When the promise was initially made in 2009, and reaffirmed in 2015, world leaders envisioned financial commitments being matched by private entities — but they too have fallen short. Indeed, the report finds, “private mobilization is not where it was projected to be,” which has hindered the global community’s efforts to curb climate change.
“We do need to see the private sector step up,” Wilkinson said.
Much of the money already committed has been funnelled through the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a South Korea-based entity set up by the United Nations, and multilateral institutions like the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
Among the dozens of projects already completed or underway, the GCF has helped the Federated States of Micronesia, an island nation in the South Pacific and one of the countries most vulnerable to a changing climate, build local “adaptive capacity” and address rising sea levels. In the Asian country of Timor-Leste, money from developed countries has built early warning systems and “disaster risk reduction mechanisms.” In the African country of Niger, the GCF has helped improve irrigation systems to prevent flooding.