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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada will double its international climate finance from CA$2.65 billion to CA$5.3 billion over a five-year period at the G7 Summit in the UK on Sunday. 

Trudeau said the increased funds will support climate adaptation efforts and nature-based solutions in low-income countries, while accelerating the global transition beyond coal. Climate action was one of the top priorities at the highly anticipated summit, and Canada was one of the only countries to follow through with a sizable commitment.

“With the global COVID-19 pandemic continuing to challenge countries and people around the world, this summit was a critical moment for G7 leaders to coordinate our collective approach to end this crisis and put the global community on the path to recovery,” Trudeau said in a statement. “Only together can we tackle global challenges like climate change, create middle class jobs and opportunities for our people, and promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.”

The G7 Summit included leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the United States, along with representatives from the European Union. The main focus of the event was the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in particular the vastly unequal nature of the global vaccine rollout. G7 countries sought to address this by promising to donate 1 billion vaccines to low-income countries through COVAX and ensuring the entire population would have access to a vaccine by the end of 2022. 

But the group failed to formally endorse the waiving of vaccine patent rules that would allow broader manufacturing of vaccines, a move that health officials have been demanding for more than a year.

"Even a billion vaccines, when we talk about two-dose vaccines, it basically means 500 million ... we need much more than that," South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in response to the announcement, according to the BBC

"We want to manufacture vaccines on our own, and we don't have the capacity,” he said. 

The Climate Front

Climate groups had high hopes that the G7 Summit would set the tone for a year of bold climate action culminating in the COP26 climate conference in November, but they were ultimately disappointed

In particular, G7 leaders failed to endorse a phase-out date for coal energy, which is a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions. The gathered countries agreed to stop financing international coal projects by next year, but with coal use increasing as a cheap source of energy in many countries, climate groups were hoping to use momentum from the G7 to amplify calls to ban coal during COP26. The International Energy Agency recently reported that countries will have to immediately stop approving new coal plants and mining if they want to prevent temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. 

“This summit feels like a broken record of the same old promises,” John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said in a statement. “There’s a new commitment to ending overseas investment in coal, which is their piece de resistance. But without agreeing to end all new fossil fuel projects — something that must be delivered this year if we are to limit dangerous rises in global temperature — this plan falls very short.”

G7 countries did agree to support the Paris climate agreement goal of raising US$100 billion annually to help low-income countries adapt to climate change and transition to renewable energy. 

This is where Canada’s increased pledge comes into play. While it isn’t the country’s fair share of the US$100 billion per year goal, the additional CA$2.65 billion will help more climate adaptation and mitigation projects get off the ground. Trudeau said the money will go toward marginalized communities first and foremost. 

“Today, Canada took an important step forward by announcing its largest-ever multi-year climate finance pledge,” Eddy Pérez, international climate diplomacy manager at Climate Action Network Canada, said in a statement. “With this pledge, Canada recognizes that climate finance is at the heart of a successful COP26 and critical to cutting emissions globally. Doubling climate finance and increasing adaptation action also opens a new chapter internationally for Canada to be seen as a partner to low and middle-income countries, in particular those most vulnerable to climate impacts.”

Germany was the only other country to boost its climate financing at the summit. Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to increase the country’s spending from 2 billion euros to 6 billion euros by 2025. 

G7 countries vowed to support the United Nations’ goal of protecting 30% of land and marine environments by 2030 and speed up investments in infrastructure. They also said they would halve emissions in their countries by 2030, a commitment that could help spur climate action at the COP26 summit. 

“Through global action and concerted leadership, 2021 should be a turning point for our planet as we commit to a green transition that cuts emissions, increases adaptation action worldwide, halts and reverses biodiversity loss, and, through policy and technological transformation, creates new high quality jobs and increases prosperity and wellbeing,” G7 leaders wrote in their letter summarizing the summit.


Defend the Planet

Canada Doubles Its International Climate Finance to $5.3B at G7

By Joe McCarthy