Rich nations make ‘disappointing’ progress in climate finance

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Rich countries are making little progress towards meeting their pledge to provide 100 billion U.S. dollars a year to poorer nations to combat climate change, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said Friday.

Developing countries, which bear the greatest impact from climate change, received 79.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2019, says the OECD in its latest report on the issue.

That is more than 20 billion U.S. dollars below what wealthy nations promised to give every year starting from 2020 to help poorer countries curb their carbon footprint and cope with future climate impacts.

The 2019 figure is the most recent available and marked a two percent increase from the year earlier, a sharp slowdown from the rates of earlier years.

And watchdog groups have warned that even those numbers may be inflated.

“The limited progress in overall climate finance volumes between 2018 and 2019 is disappointing, particularly ahead of COP26 (the UN climate summit in November),” OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann said in a statement.

“While appropriately verified data for 2020 will not be available until early next year it is clear that climate finance will remain well short of its target,” he said.

“More needs to be done. We know that donor countries recognize this,” he said, adding that Canada and Germany are moving forward with a plan to mobilize the additional finance required to reach the 100 billion U.S. dollar annual goal.

Meanwhile, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is still unknown.

Low-income countries have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 crisis, with waves of disease and lockdowns wreaking economic havoc, even as climate change-driven disasters and threats continue to mount.

Public climate finance from developed countries accounted for the lion’s share of the 2019 figure, some 62.9 billion U.S. dollars, with another 2.6 billion in government-backed export credits.

The rest, some 14 billion U.S. dollars, came from private investment mobilized by public mechanisms.

The 2009 UN climate summit in Copenhagen mandated that poorer nations were to receive the 100 billion and the pledge was renewed in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

But where the money was to come from and how it would be allocated were not spelled out, which has made tracking progress toward that goal both difficult and disputed.

The promise has been a recurring source of anger in poor countries and it will likely be a key point of contention at the crunch UN climate talks in Glasgow in November.

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