More needed: G-7 nations agree to boost climate finance

In a photo taken on July 26, 2011, labourers prepare the flooded field for rice farming near Kolaghat Thermal Power Plant in Mecheda, Kolkata. PHOTO: AFP

CARBIS BAY, ENGLAND (REUTERS) - G-7 leaders agreed on Sunday (June 13) to raise their contributions to meet an overdue spending pledge of US$100 billion (S$132.5 billion) a year to help poorer countries cut carbon emissions and cope with global warming, but campaigners said firm cash promises were missing.

Alongside plans billed as helping speed infrastructure funding in developing countries and a shift to renewable and sustainable technology, the world's seven largest advanced economies again pledged to meet the climate finance target.

But climate groups said the promise made in the summit's final communique lacked detail, most importantly a figure for the increases.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said individual nations were expected to set out the size of the increases "in due course".

After the summit concluded, Canada said it would double its climate finance pledge to C$5.3 billion (S$5.8 billion) over the next five years and Germany said it would boost its contribution by 2 billion to 6 billion euros (S$9.62 billion) a year by 2025 at the latest.

In the communique, the seven nations - the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan - reaffirmed their commitment to "jointly mobilise US$100 billion per year from public and private sources, through to 2025".

"Towards this end, we commit to each increase and improve our overall international public climate finance contributions for this period and call on other developed countries to join and enhance their contributions to this effort. We welcome the commitments already made by some of the G-7 to increase climate finance and look forward to new commitments from others well ahead of COP26 in Glasgow," the group said, referring to a major UN climate summit in November.

The group, which held its three-day meeting at a Cornish seaside resort, also pledged to help mobilise further private capital towards the green transition that would help poorer nations cut emissions and adapt to climate change impacts.

Johnson, host of the gathering in Carbis Bay, told a news conference that developed nations had to move further, faster.

"G7 countries account for 20 per cent of global carbon emissions, and we were clear this weekend that action has to start with us," he said as the summit concluded.

"And while it's fantastic that every one of the G7 countries has pledged to wipe out our contributions to climate change, we need to make sure we're achieving that as fast as we can and helping developing countries at the same time."

The group also recognised the biodiversity crisis facing the planet and the need to better protect nature.

"We commit to champion ambitious and effective global biodiversity targets, including conserving or protecting at least 30 per cent of global land and at least 30 per cent of the global ocean by 2030. These actions will help stem the extinction crisis, safeguard water and food supplies, absorb carbon pollution, and reduce the risks of future pandemics."

But here, too, more detail was needed, said Ms Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director, Greenpeace International.

"A resourced plan to protect at least 30 per cent of our land and sea is missing, yet urgently needed. Nature protection must be realised in partnership with local and Indigenous Peoples within this decade. Otherwise pandemics stand to become a nightmarish norm against the backdrop of climate catastrophe," she said in a statement.

Appeal for action

British environmentalist David Attenborough appealed to politicians to take action.

"We know in detail what is happening to our planet, and we know many of the things we need to do during this decade," he said in a recorded video address to the meeting.

"Tackling climate change is now as much a political and communications challenge as it is a scientific or technological one. We have the skills to address it in time, all we need is the global will to do so."

Some green groups were unimpressed with the climate pledges.

Catherine Pettengell, director at Climate Action Network, an umbrella group for advocacy organisations, said the G-7 had failed to rise to the challenge of agreeing on concrete commitments on climate finance. "We had hoped that the leaders of the world's richest nations would come away from this week having put their money their mouth is," she said.

Rachel Kyte, Dean of Tufts Fletcher School and a former UN climate envoy, said: "G7 leaders served us a bad pasty. On the outside the deal looks good - but there's little detail on the inside. Details matter especially in a low- trust environment."

Tasneem Essop, Executive Director, Climate Action Network, said US$100 billion was the minimum of what was needed to build trust before COP26 and meet past obligations.

"Rich countries must go beyond reiterating existing obligations and put new and additional finance on the table. Let us remember, the US$100 billion is not a one-off payment.

"It is a continuing annual commitment as agreed to in the Paris Agreement for rich countries to do their fair share and mobilise finance in the trillions if we are to keep warming to 1.5C degrees within this decade," she said in a statement.

Pledges overdue
Developed countries agreed at the United Nations in 2009 to together contribute US$100 billion each year by 2020 in climate finance to poorer countries, many of whom are grappling with rising seas, storms and droughts made worse by climate change.

That target was not met, derailed in part by the coronavirus pandemic.

The G-7 also said 2021 should be a "turning point for our planet" and to accelerate efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and keep the 1.5 degree Celsius global warming threshold within reach.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the G7 leaders had agreed to phase out coal.

The communique seemed less clear, saying: "We have committed to rapidly scale-up technologies and policies that further accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity, consistent with our 2030 NDCs and net zero commitment."

But there were few details on how they would manage to cut emissions, with an absence of specific measures on everything from the phasing out of coal to moving to electric vehicles.

Pettengell said it was encouraging that leaders were recognising the importance of climate change but their words had to be backed up by specific action on cutting subsidies for fossil fuel development and ending investment in projects such as new oil and gas fields, as well as on climate finance.

In the final communique, the group committed to an end to new direct government support for unabated international thermal coal power generation by the end of 2021, "including through Official Development Assistance, export finance, investment, and financial and trade promotion support."

"Domestically, we commit to achieve an overwhelmingly decarbonised power system in the 2030s and to actions to accelerate this. Internationally, we commit to aligning official international financing with the global achievement of net zero GHG emissions no later than 2050 and for deep emissions reductions in the 2020s."

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