The US is giving less than its fair share of climate aid

AT COP27, the first UN climate conference to be held in Africa in six years, developing countries are focusing more attention than ever on the failure of rich countries to deliver the long-promised $100 billion in annual climate aid. Data analysis published on Monday from the non-profit climate site CarbonBrief shines a harsh light on the limited efforts of some of the world’s most advanced economies.

In 2020, the US contributed $7.6 billion to the $100 billion pledge, but in proportion to its contribution to climate change – in the form of historical greenhouse gas emissions— had to give $39.9 billion.

President Joe Biden said in 2021 that he wants to increase US Climate Aid to $11 billion by 2024. But that will require cooperation from Congress — a prospect that appears to have diminished since the Nov. 8 midterms. Republicans who have consistently struggles Democratic efforts to allocate more money to climate finance look set to bring the house back.

Of the 23 rich countries that CarbonBrief included in its analysis, which used data and estimates from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Resources Institute and Oxfam, the US is lagging behind, contributing just 19% of its fair value share of 100 billion dollars. But others also fell short of billions of dollars: Canada provided 37% of its fair share, Australia 38% and the UK 76%. The $100 billion pledge first made by these countries in 2009 as part of UN climate action negotiations, was to be delivered annually until 2020.

Anger is compounded by the failure to meet what appears in 2022 to be a rather low target. The $100 billion pledged to the entire developing world equates to amount of aid sent to Ukraine to help fight Russian invasion this year. This is about two-thirds of the budget of Public Health Englandor one eleventh of US defense spending. $100 billion is also the money Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has lost of his personal wealth in the last 13 months.

In total, the 23 rich countries gave just over $60 billion to poorer countries to reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change in 2020, both through direct aid between countries and through contributions to multilateral development banks. An additional $23 billion was sent through climate funds and private sources, leading to climate finance total for 2020 to $83 billion.

But even if the $100 billion pledge is met, it will be only a fraction of the funds poorer countries need to tackle climate change. A 2021 survey from the World Resources Institute found that annual climate finance will need to increase to $5 trillion by 2030 if the world is to actually meet its emissions targets and give vulnerable countries the resources to deal with extreme weather .

As it seems almost impossible for rich countries to step up so much, this year developing countries have tried to shift the climate conversation to what happens when they can’t adapt to climate impacts. For the first time, the official agenda of the UN climate summit includes discussions on creating a “loss and damage” fund – compensation that developing countries should receive for the growing number of natural disasters they suffer despite having contributed relatively little for global carbon emissions. Pakistani authorities, for example, have called for a massive financial injection to help the country recover from the situation catastrophic floods from 2022, which will cost about $40 billion – more than 10% of its GDP. Pakistan has contributed 0.3% historical greenhouse gas emissions.

In his speech at COP27, Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Motley called for a new financing mechanism for climate recoveryand redesigning global financial institutions to fight climate change in an equitable way. “We were the ones whose blood, sweat and tears funded the industrial revolution,” she said. “Are we now going to face double jeopardy, having to pay the price as a result of these industrial revolution greenhouse gases?” This is fundamentally unfair.”

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Write to Ciara Nugent in [email protected].

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