President Biden will announce stronger climate finance commitments for countries suffering damage from higher temperatures during his address today to the United Nations General Assembly, according to the White House.
His remarks will come more than a decade after the United States and other wealthy countries pledged to give $ 100 billion a year to climate-vulnerable countries.
“The President will address the issue of financial obligations and commitments of developed countries, including the commitment of $ 100 billion per year, and he will talk about what the United States intends to do in this regard,” he said. said a senior administration official. during a call with reporters yesterday.
a OECD report released on Friday found that funding to developed countries was $ 20 billion below the $ 100 billion target in 2019. Oxfam yesterday released a similar report estimating that rich countries will fall short of the $ 100 billion mark. before 2025, which will result in a six-year deficit. up to $ 75 billion.
UN Secretary General António Guterres recognized the importance of keeping this broken promise yesterday following a climate roundtable on the sidelines of the United Nations Assembly.
“Today, I was happy to see many countries recognize that it is essential to turn this commitment into reality”, he said after the closed-door climate meeting. “We’ll see how it goes. It is a matter of trust that is absolutely essential to resolve.
Guterres has warned that the upcoming climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, may fail if rich countries do not change course.
At yesterday’s press conference, he called for stronger commitments from all countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, more funding for climate adaptation and the delivery of the $ 100 billion. of dollars.
Increased support from international financial institutions and the private sector will also be crucial, Guterres said. But that would not cover the immediate needs of many poor countries, nor help those who cannot borrow money because of their debt, he added.
“Once again, developed countries must step up their efforts,” he said.
More … than 20 executives from a mix of developed and developing countries participated in the roundtable. China, the United States and India, the world’s biggest climate polluters in that order, sent government officials.
Li Shuo, head of climate and energy policy at Greenpeace East Asia, said the absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping was not good news, but that it would be more important to see what he said during the speech high level today. It was during last year’s General Assembly speech that Xi pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. Observers will be watching to see if he uses today’s speech to explain how China will achieve this goal.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who co-hosted the roundtable with Guterres, yesterday expressed frustration that countries are not keeping their promises.
“Too many large economies – some represented here today, others absent – are lagging too far behind”, he said. “And tinkering around the edges… just won’t bring the change the planet needs.”
The UK has committed $ 15.8 billion in climate finance over the next five years, double its previous five-year commitment. It will spend more than $ 750 million to help developing countries phase out coal, switch to clean energy and adapt to climate change, according to a declaration from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Johnson said Sweden, Denmark and Italy offered promising commitments at yesterday’s climate roundtable.
“But the United States is critically important,” he said. If Biden were to commit more climate funds, “it would send an extremely powerful signal ‘to developing countries’ that we, the industrialized western countries, really take it seriously and are really ready to step up and help them,” he added.
Last week, the European Union committed an additional € 4 billion for climate finance until 2027.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, reported yesterday in a tweet that finance would be an area to watch.
“We need to step up climate finance to support the most vulnerable countries in the transition, with at least $ 100 billion. Team Europe is doing its part with more than $ 25 billion a year. More to come, ”she wrote.
The Biden administration announced earlier this year that it would contribute $ 5.7 billion in climate finance by 2024, double the amount offered by the Obama administration. But that’s a quarter of what the EU currently provides, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI).
If the United States were to increase its financial commitment, it wouldn’t have to provide the money right away, said Joe Thwaites, global climate finance expert at WRI.
The House Appropriations Committee increased funding for international climate programs to $ 3 billion in June, of which $ 1.6 billion goes to the Green Climate Fund, which helps developing countries adapt to climate change. But the Obama administration only paid $ 1 billion of its initial pledge of $ 3 billion to the fund before the Trump administration discontinued support for the program. Appropriation acts are now in the Senate (Green wire, June 28).
The Biden administration could also try to raise more money through the US International Development Finance Corp., a government agency that is not entirely dependent on Congress for its appropriation.
“Part of the challenge with this commitment, the $ 100 billion, is that they never really specified what each country should do, they didn’t agree on a formula for sharing the effort,” Thwaites said. “So you have this messy process where everyone comes to the potluck with whatever they think they can do. But as we saw in the OECD analysis, a potluck approach doesn’t not going to cut it. “
At the end of the week, Biden will host a meeting with the leaders of India, Japan and Australia, a group known as the Quad. Climate is high on the agenda, along with COVID-19, technology and economic investments, the senior White House official said. Biden will also hold bilateral meetings with each of these leaders as well as with Prime Minister Johnson.
Journalist Scott Waldman contributed.