May it be a happy meeting, the first round of negotiations in a year and a half. Climate diplomats from around the world haven’t seen each other for long, the pandemic has prevented it. Several negotiators have known each other for years and friendships developed. But Diann Black-Layne is not in harmony when she speaks on Monday. In addition, she talks not only about her homeland, the island country of Antigua and Barbuda, but also about the group of island states, Aosis. And as such, it immediately brings up an uncomfortable topic: money.
Early summer is usually the time to prepare for climate diplomats. They meet for two weeks – usually in Bonn – to prepare for the next major UN climate summit. It should be held in November in Glasgow, Scotland. This time the tour is only virtual, and when the lines from Suriname to Samoa are in place, Black Line speaks on behalf of the island nations. She explains that climate change has been caused by other, more affluent nations. They must now also be responsible for the consequences of the climate crisis. Rich countries have to pay their fair share. And if they want to prove they are serious about the Paris Agreement, what is needed now is “sufficient, reliable and achievable” funding, Blackline demands. This is the crucial question in the conversations.
The first round of negotiations began long ago with a topic that the industrialized countries did not particularly like. Commitments like climate neutrality by 2050 can be implemented quickly and cost nothing at first. “But what countries are really willing to provide can be counted,” says Jan Koelzig, who is involved in climate finance at Oxfam Aid. “And yet it has always been quite a bit.”
Even at the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference, financial commitments were among the poor outcomes. By 2020, rich countries must raise $100 billion annually from a “variety of sources” that should include public and private financing. For example, loans from government development banks can help initiate much larger private investments. The agreement only left open whether $100 billion should flow in in all years through 2020, or whether it would grow gradually.
The UK is trying to impose strict financial commitments at all levels
When the OECD group of industrialized nations in the winter calculated the actual influx, it came to $79 billion for 2018, eight billion more than the previous year. But much less than the target 100. The amount of aid collected in 2020, for example to expand renewable energies or precautions against impending climate damage, can be roughly estimated, says Oxfam Kowalzig. “It is very likely to be a cent billion.” At this point, donor countries can most likely prove they are serious about solidarity in times of the climate crisis.
Great Britain’s chief diplomat Alok Sharma can also use this guide. As president-elect, he must make the Glasgow Summit a success for the climate. Money plays an important role in this. Because the decisions accompanying the Paris Agreement not only set $100 billion but also demand a new, higher fiscal target for the period after 2025. Gerd Müller, Germany’s development minister, considers this essential as well. “The climate finance target should rise dramatically from $100 billion per year worldwide,” says the CSU man. Climate change is particularly affecting the poorest people. “More people than ever before are forced to leave their homes because they have lost their livelihood.”
The UK is currently trying to push through firm financial commitments at all levels – including hosting the G7 summit of major industrial nations to be held in Cornwall next weekend. It is claimed that the drafts of the final statement already contain a table for this. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has the support. In March, he had a non-paper circulated to the G7 countries with his priorities for the Cornwall meeting. Point 1: All seven industrialized countries and other industrialized nations will have to pledge to “double their public climate finance for 2021-2024 with new commitments.”
So far, the response has been poor. In April, the new US administration pledged to double its public assistance by 2024, compared to the years 2013 to 2016, Barack Obama’s second term. But when Angela Merkel last dealt with billions in the Petersburg climate dialogue, she refrained from making promises. Germany promised 4 billion euros and even contributed 4.3 billion euros in 2019. If you add private money, you will get 7.3 billion euros in 2020. “I think this is a fair contribution from Germany,” the chancellor said.
Appalled, climate activists demanded a doubling of the money. “There is no impact of the increase,” says Sven Harmeling, a climate expert at Care International. Aid recently looked at climate financing plans in 28 countries, but none of them were convincing. Germany is only in the middle of the field, says Harmling.