By Beh Lih Yi
July 9 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — The world's 20 largest economies face mounting calls to boost climate finance for poorer nations as ministers meet on Friday in Italy, with green groups warning a failure to deliver fresh money could throw November's key climate talks into doubt.
Developed nations are under pressure ahead of the COP26 climate conference in Scotland to deliver a promised $100 billion a year for vulnerable countries to adopt clean energy and adapt to a warmer planet, up from about $80 billion in 2018.
After a June summit of G7 leaders ended with a commitment to meet the $100-billion goal but lacked detail on how and when, the UN chief, Britain and a group of 48 developing nations this week called for a clear plan for its delivery.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he would emphasise the importance of defining such a plan through to 2025, when he speaks to G20 finance ministers on Friday.
"They need to address the issue squarely," said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples' Movement on Debt and Development, an alliance representing over 50 groups in Asia campaigning on climate change and other issues.
Nacpil urged developing countries at the two-day meeting in Venice, including Indonesia and India which are part of the G20, to push finance ministers from rich nations to boost funding.
"They have to be clear how much and by when. They have to deliver," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Manila. "We're not asking for help, this is an obligation [for developed countries] because of their historical emissions."
In 2009, wealthy governments agreed to increase climate finance for vulnerable countries to $100 billion annually by 2020, and under the Paris agreement said they would negotiate a yet-higher amount that would kick in from 2025.
But reaching the target has proved a challenge. A UN-commissioned report said in December it was unlikely the goal had been met in 2020 amid the economic woes of the coronavirus pandemic, although firm figures are not yet available.
Only Germany, Canada, and Japan offered new money at the G7 meeting last month — and climate finance experts and campaigners are calling on the United States, Italy, and Australia in particular to give more, to make up their fair share.
"Now it is up to the finance ministers and leaders of the G20 meeting in Italy to deliver the money," said Saleemul Huq, director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh.
"Failure to deliver the money before COP26 in November will make the COP a failure," added Huq, who has urged climate-vulnerable nations to skip the Glasgow talks if the funds are not delivered by November.
Fossil Fuel Subsidies
Delivering the much-needed money has become a thorny issue ahead of COP26, with many developing countries already under huge financial stress from dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The International Monetary Fund warned this week of a "dangerous divergence" between wealthy and lower-income countries as they seek to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
Alok Sharma, the British official who will preside over the COP26 talks, said earlier this month that, ahead of the UN summit, "we are going to need all developed countries to make ambitious finance commitments for the next five years."
@COP26@AlokSharma_RDG: I urge richer countries and the @IMFLive to respond urgently to the @G7's calls on SDRs, and the @g20org to address the debt challenges faced by developing countries. I urge multilateral development banks to also take action. #VulnerablesFinanceSummitpic.twitter.com/21a1D5JMmD— V20 Group of Finance Ministers (@V20Group) July 8, 2021
"I have to tell you that the frustration that I hear from leaders and ministers in developing countries that these funds still remain uncertain is absolutely palpable," he added, referring to the unmet $100-billion goal.
The International Institute for Environment and Development, a London-based research group, said that while the G7 had fallen short, the G20 "has the chance to make it up."
Its director Andrew Norton also urged the G20 to create a new initiative to allow indebted, climate-vulnerable countries to swap their debt or access new bonds — and use those resources for projects to tackle climate change and protect nature.
Others urged G20 nations to end their backing for fossil fuels and channel the money instead into climate action.
A tracker run by groups including the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) shows the G20 has committed at least $297 billion to support dirty energy since the pandemic began in early 2020.
Angela Picciariello, a senior research officer at ODI, said fossil fuel finance remains a "huge problem."
"As long as G20 countries continue propping up the fossil fuel industry, key priorities such as investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency will not pay off," she said in emailed comments.
(Reporting by Beh Lih Yi @behlihyi; editing by Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)