Climate’s $100-billion broken promise
November 5, 2021 - Twelve years ago, developed nations pledged to provide US$100 billion a year to poorer countries by 2020 to help them adapt to climate change. So far, rich countries have fallen short, according to an assessment by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Figures for 2020 are unavailable, and those who negotiated the pledge don’t agree on accounting methods. Still, a report last year for the UN by the Independent Expert Group on Climate Finance concluded that “the only realistic scenarios” showed the $100-billion target was out of reach. “We are not there yet,” conceded UN secretary-general António Guterres.
Pledges ahead of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, UK, have led to hopes that, by 2023, wealthy nations will manage to transfer $100 billion annually.
The OECD has assessed that wealthy nations contributed $79.5 billion in climate finance to developing countries in 2019, up from $78.3 billion in 2018. Although wealthy nations collectively agreed to the $100-billion goal, they made no formal deal on what each should pay.
An October report from the U.S.-based World Resources Institute calculated that the U.S. should contribute 40–47 per cent of the $100 billion. But its contribution from 2013 to 2018 was only around $8.9 billion, the WRI estimates.
U.S. President Joe Biden has promised $11.4 billion in annual financing by 2024, but much of that funding requires U.S. Congressional approval.
On the other hand, Japan, Germany and France have transferred more than their fair share -- $56.2 billion, $35.4 billion and $22.6 billion, respectively.
“It isn’t a great sign,” says Joe Thwaites, a climate finance specialist at the WRI.