The Rich World’s Promise of $100 Billion in Climate Aid Inches Forward

Money that was supposed to be on the table last year will most likely be on the table next year.

That’s the upshot of diplomatic efforts, announced Monday, to shore up $100 billion a year to help poor countries address climate change. It comes more than a decade after the United States said it would ensure that the industrialized nations of the world, whose pollutants have already warmed up the planet, would raise $100 billion a year starting in 2020. That pledge was enshrined in the 2015 Paris accord, the agreement among nations to address climate change.

Now, a week before high-stakes international climate talks begin in Glasgow, diplomats from Canada and Germany said on Monday in a joint statement that they expected “significant progress toward the U.S.$100 billion goal in 2022 and express confidence that it would be met in 2023.”

However, it may not be enough to ameliorate mounting tension and distrust at the Glasgow talks, known as the 26th session of the Conference of Parties, or COP26. “Making good on a promise made more than a decade ago is setting a pretty low bar for a successful COP26,” Teresa Anderson, climate policy coordinator at ActionAid International, a nongovernmental group, said in a statement.

The money has been a widening fault line in climate diplomacy. Some poor and middle-income countries have argued that they should not be expected to slow their emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases if rich countries cannot keep their $100 billion promise.

In fact, $100 billion a year is nowhere sufficient to adapt to the damages brought on by climate disruptions, let alone pivot the energy systems of poor countries away from fossil fuels.

The blueprint, issued Monday, said developed countries would prioritize grants as part of this funding, rather than loans. Exactly how to make up for the shortfalls for 2020 and 2021 remains unclear. The United States has committed $11.4 billion a year by 2024, though that would require Congressional approval.

“Through these efforts, developed countries demonstrate that they remain committed to meet and deliver on the U.S.$100 billion goal,” read the statement from the Canadian and German environment ministers, who are working to bridge the funding gap. “We expect our mobilization efforts will create positive momentum for climate action in the coming weeks and months.”

Mohamed Adow of Power Shift Africa, an advocacy group based in Nairobi, called it “the bare minimum that rich countries need to do to hold up their end of the bargain at COP26.”

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