Rich countries like Canada head to another COP climate conference after failing to meet $100B financing goal

Kenyan activists demonstrate at a protest to highlight the effects of global warming — and demand more aid for poor countries — in downtown Nairobi, Kenya on Sept. 24, 2022. (AP - image credit)
Kenyan activists demonstrate at a protest to highlight the effects of global warming — and demand more aid for poor countries — in downtown Nairobi, Kenya on Sept. 24, 2022. (AP - image credit)

Wealthy countries like Canada that have generated the bulk of climate-altering global carbon emissions are heading into another global climate conference after failing — again — to meet their financial commitments to the countries bearing the brunt of climate change.

Ahead of the November 6-18 COP27 climate conference in Egypt, Canada's environment minister and Germany's international climate envoy released a progress report concluding that more work is needed to deliver $136.2 billion Cdn ($100 billion US) in annual climate financing.

"We know that we did not mobilize US$100 billion in 2020, but through this report [we] demonstrate developed countries' ongoing commitment to reaching this goal as soon as possible," wrote Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Jennifer Morgan, Germany's secretary of state and international climate action envoy.

The report cites the most recent 2020 figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showing that developed countries mobilized $83.3 billion US to help poorer countries shift away from fossil fuels and prepare for severe weather events. That's up from the $79.6 billion US earmarked for climate aid in 2019.

Last year, Canada and Germany confirmed that developed nations collectively had fallen short of their promises but "expressed confidence that the goal would be met in 2023."

On Friday, the two countries outlined where developed countries had fallen short. They cited the need to double climate change adaptation financing, reduce bureaucratic barriers to project funding and mobilize private financing and international development banks.

Guilbeault and Morgan also joined senior U.S. officials like Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and President Joe Biden's climate envoy John Kerry in criticizing international institutions like the World Bank for not doing enough to support developing nations.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press
Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

"The World Bank has an especially important role to play, and some multilateral development banks are being more proactive than others," Guilbeault told a news conference Friday. "But I think there is a clear desire to see the World Bank be one of the most ambitious."

CBC reached out to the World Bank for comment and did not receive an immediate response. The report notes the World Bank delivered $31.7 billion US in climate financing in 2022 —19 per cent more than it contributed in 2021. But it only made that contribution under pressure from developing and developed countries, the report states.

Friday's update was released before the Conference of Parties (COP) climate conference in Egypt. The annual conference is the global decision-making forum set up to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, adopted in the early 1990s, and subsequent climate agreements.

The $100 billion US annual commitment was made at the COP15 conference in Copenhagen, Denmark over a decade ago. It was based on the recognition that the developed world is mainly responsible for producing climate change-causing emissions that now disproportionately affect poorer countries.

The European Union and the 23 countries represented at COP15 committed to delivering on the money commitment by 2020.

Canada needs to step up: environmental group

The report says Canada's total commitment to that promised climate financing package is $5.3 billion over five years, 40 per cent of it in grants.

Julie Segal is senior climate finance manager at Environmental Defence, an environmental advocacy group. She said Canada's share of that $100 billion should be roughly $9 billion — and it's not the only rich country failing to step up.

AP Photo/Zahid Hussain
AP Photo/Zahid Hussain

"All developed countries are not pulling enough weight on this issue," Segal told CBC. "All developed countries are moving too slowly on this issue."

At the close of COP26, the last international climate summit, developed countries pledged to double the amount of financing available for adaptation. But according to the progress report, Luxembourg and Portugal have yet to set targets to bump up funding.

"It is a shameful betrayal that rich nations continue to be chronic defaulters on their climate finance pledges," said Tasneem Essop, executive director for Climate Action Network International, in a media statement.