Climate justice, for the first time, is on the G7 agenda | Earth beat


Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in The Nation and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalistic collaboration boosting coverage of climate history.

Leaders of the seven richest countries per capita gather at the annual Group of 7 summit this weekend – and climate justice is explicitly on the agenda. It never happened. How G7 leaders respond to the challenge of climate justice this weekend will shape the chances of success of the November global climate summit that UN Secretary-General António Guterres calls “our last opportunity” to defuse the climate emergency.

“Twenty-one is a landmark year,” Guterres said in an interview this week with the global news consortium Covering Climate Now. “I think we’re always on time, but when you’re on the brink you have to make sure the next step is in the right direction.”

What is at issue are the promises rich countries made in the 2015 Paris Agreement, promises they blatantly broke. Most media attention has focused on promises by G7 countries to reduce emissions enough to limit global temperature rise to “well below” 2 ° C and preferably 1.5 ° C. vs. 2100, a de facto death sentence for millions of people and countless ecosystems, leading humanity further down the road to extinction. The disturbing prospect continues to spark popular protests against oil, coal and gas development, including the Keystone XL pipeline in Canada whose owners officially canceled the project this week.

Equally important, though much less discussed, is the pledge by rich countries in the Paris Agreement to provide $ 100 billion a year to help developing countries move away from fossil fuels and protect themselves from climate impacts. . This obligation, which was due to come into effect in 2020, was based on the truism that climate change is caused overwhelmingly by the rich but disproportionately punishes the poor. Rich countries also failed to honor their $ 100 billion pledge. Instead of $ 100 billion a year in climate aid, they have provided around $ 20 billion, according to an analysis by global poverty alleviation NGO Oxfam on 2018 figures (the latest year of data making authority).

Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister and host of this year’s G7 summit, and Guterres have said they will put pressure on other G7 leaders – US President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron , German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Minister Yoshihide Suga – to honor their obligations under the Paris Agreement. This is not only a matter of justice, Guterres told Covering Climate Now, but also of building trust between rich and poor countries, a trust that Guterres believes is necessary for the COP 26 climate summit in November to be successful. . G7 leaders must guarantee they will deliver the climate aid they have promised, Guterres said, and “clarify how this $ 100 billion will be delivered.”

Providing climate assistance is not an act of charity but rather of self-preservation, according to a landmark report by the International Energy Agency released last month. In order to keep the global temperature rise at 1.5 ° C, the IEA said, the world must stop all development of new fossil fuels, and both developing and developed countries must move quickly to zero energy. carbon. This change will be “impossible” for developing countries, said Guterres, without significant financial and technological assistance.

The climate crisis and the Covid pandemic share something big in common. “You can’t protect yourself unless you protect everyone,” said Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group special representative to the Paris climate summit and now dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University. To that end, G7 leaders must make it clear at this weekend’s summit that they will “share [their] surplus vaccine and share it now. Otherwise, we’re going to see variants come and go, and we’ll never escape them. ”Likewise, rich countries must help“ get the whole world out of coal ”if they are to survive climate change themselves, a. Kyte added. “It’s a boat. You don’t survive in your end of the boat if the other end of the boat goes underwater. “

But rebuilding trust with developing countries is problematic given the poor track record of G7 countries in climate assistance, said Saleemul Huq, director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh, which helped to help diplomats from the South to insert the 1.5 ° C target. in the Paris Agreement. “These are the same seven countries that made this promise [of climate aid in the Paris Agreement], on which they disowned. So if they want to have credibility or confidence they are going to have to deliver [the money] they were supposed to do it for 2020, then an additional $ 100 billion is due in 2021. The problem is the credibility of the [G7] leaders, and if we can believe everything they say. “

To hear the rich countries say it, they have actually fulfilled their climate aid obligations quite well. Citing 2018 data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a group of 38 of the richest economies in the world, rich countries gave around $ 79 billion in climate aid in 2018.

But Oxfam’s analysis of OECD data reveals that the $ 79 billion figure is vastly inflated and based on questionable definitions and accounting tricks. Some 75% of the $ 79 billion was given in loans that must be repaid rather than outright grants, said Tracy Carty, senior policy adviser at Oxfam and co-author of the Oxfam analysis. And some aid was intended for projects that only a very indulgent mind would consider climate friendly. For example, Japan claimed that its investment in a new coal-fired power plant in Bangladesh, a country with some of the world’s most vulnerable ecosystems, was seen as climate aid because the new plant was more efficient than the old models.

In addition, only 20-25% of aid from rich countries helps poor countries protect themselves from heat waves, droughts, storms, rising seas and other impacts of rising temperatures. Instead, most of the aid has been aimed at reducing emissions in larger developing economies, such as China, India, South Africa and Brazil, Huq said, “when only 20% went to the most vulnerable countries, like my country, Bangladesh, to adapt to the impacts of climate change. One of the reasons is that investments “in renewable energy projects generate income which allows loans to be repaid”; giving money to the poor to survive storms and floods does not. Highly vulnerable developing countries demand, Huq added, that half of all climate assistance “must be for adaptation in the most vulnerable countries”, and that such assistance must be provided in the form of grants. not loans.

If G7 leaders do not give a credible guarantee this weekend that they will honor their climate aid and other Paris Agreement obligations, then the world is heading for failure at the landmark climate summit in November, said Huq and Kyte. “The closest thing we have to world government is these seven great economies, and if they decide to do something, then that something is done,” Huq said. “So far, both with climate assistance and Covid vaccinations, [the G7 leaders] see themselves as the rulers of their own country and don’t care about the rest of the world. And they think they’ll be safe. But they are do not will be safe. “

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