UK hopes to negotiate deals on climate finance and vaccine support for developing countries when G7 leaders meet in Cornwall next week
The G7 rich country group has been tasked with closing the funding gap for the world’s most vulnerable countries to recover from Covid-19 and tackle the climate crisis.
A three-day summit, chaired by the UK, will bring together leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and US from Friday in the seaside resort of Carbis Bay in Cornwall.
Support for poorer countries to roll out Covid-19 vaccines, tackle unsustainable debt and accelerate climate investments is key to leveraging higher ambition during Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow five months longer late, according to experts.
“Political alignment to ask countries to come [to Cop26] and signal that they are going to do more without indicating where the resources will come from and solidarity becomes an increasingly small eye of the needle for [Cop26 president designate] Alok Sharma to cross, ”said Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University.
While issues have been on the G7’s agenda for months, ministers left the toughest decisions to heads of government.
In a two-day meeting in London this weekend, finance ministers were content to reaffirmed a commitment to “increase and improve our contributions to climate finance until 2025”, without putting numbers on the table.
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“It was actually an opportunity for the finance ministers to take the floor and talk about a kind of amounts [of finance] and creativity in terms of instruments, ”Kyte said.
Rich countries pledged ten years ago to collectively mobilize $ 100 billion a year to finance climate by 2020. Although official data will not be available until 2022, the UN estimates donors will be in short supply. of $ 20 billion.
UN chief António Guterres called on major economies to double their financial commitments at the G7 summit. So far, the UK and US are the only members to have plans to double their commitments until 2025.
Kyte said: “The question for the leaders’ summit is if not the G7, then who? and if not now, when? It’s a big week for British foreign policy and climate leadership. “
Nick Mabey, chief executive of the E3G think tank, said the G7 was “on a razor’s edge” over whether it would provide the financial package needed for a positive outcome in the Cop26 climate talks.
The success of Cop26 as a “moment of transformation” for climate ambition depends on the provision of climate finance, he said. “Unless we provide support to developing countries, there will be no room for climate ambition in Glasgow. We will only talk about finances. The G7 is the last moment of the year to present this finance package ”.
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The UK government has made mobilizing new climate finance pledges a centerpiece of its G7 diplomacy. Despite pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose 16-year term ends in September, to announce increased climate finance, her demands have so far gone unheeded.
Canada, France, Italy and Japan “speak well” but have yet to make new climate commitments, Kyte said. The US has doubled its financial commitment but from “an extremely weak base” and must step up its engagement ahead of Cop26, said Peter Betts, former chief negotiator for UK and EU and associate researcher at Chatham House.
In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a revolt within his Conversative party over the government’s decision to cut aid spending from 0.7 to 0.5% of gross national income during the pandemic. Despite promises to limit climate aid, some climate research projects are suffering.
The move “reduces the UK’s credibility by pushing other donors to do more” and could have an impact on building alliances the UK will need to secure a strong deal at Cop26, Betts said. .
“The bulk of global emissions now come from emerging economies, not developed countries. If you want to have any credibility with these countries, you need vulnerable countries with you, ”he said.
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For Graça Machel, former Minister of Education and Culture of Mozambique and co-founder of The Elders, ensuring equitable deployment of vaccines is a prerequisite for gaining the confidence of developing countries in climate talks.
While richer countries have accumulated vaccines and rolled out mass vaccination programs, only 2% of Africans have so far been vaccinated, she said.
And while wealthy governments have spent billions of dollars on Covid-19 stimulus packages, indebted and climate-vulnerable countries have been unable to recover from the pandemic, let alone invest in climate action. .
“We are in a situation where investments for the developing world are declining. We are in a situation where aid is reduced – the UK is one example.
“The impact of climate change cannot be tackled by just focusing on the developed world. It needs to focus on the developing world as well, because either we are all safe or no one is safe, ”Machel said.
Last week, Prime Minister Johnson called on G7 leaders to make concrete commitments to vaccinate the whole world against the coronavirus by the end of 2022.