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Let’s Get Real on Climate Finance

Rich countries have been talking for years about helping developing nations adapt to climate change and build resilient green economies. But until now, there’s not been a whole lot of action. That has to change – starting at COP 26.


At the upcoming UN COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow in November, one of the crucial topics for negotiation will be climate finance – and it’s time for rich nations’ money to start talking in a big way.

The message coming from poorer nations hit hard by everything from stronger hurricanes to longer droughts is clear: We need restorative justice in financing solutions.

Put simply, this means that the wealthy developed nations primarily responsible for the climate crisis have to own up to the damage they’ve done. Which means honoring their previous commitments now and financing adaptation and zero-carbon development in impacted nations in the years ahead.

Developing countries need this support for a number of reasons. First, many are located in regions that make them acutely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, impacts that keep hitting them harder and more frequently as the world warms.

Recognizing an existential threat when they see it, many of these countries are striving to transform their societies into resilient, zero-carbon economies. That transformation requires enormous investments in renewable energy and grid technology, writing off stranded assets, building adaptation infrastructure, and more.

These countries are already experiencing shrinking fiscal space due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with some having spent a great deal on international loans with stipulations of further austerity measures. Plus, many also face other pressing matters that require budgetary attention.

Most importantly, these countries didn’t cause the problem in the first place. The vast majority are not major emitters, and those who are have smaller per-capita emissions than the wealthier nations of the world, or their emissions exist to serve the consumer demand of wealthy nations.

Basic standards of justice demand that the wealthiest, most responsible nations of the world transfer some of that wealth to those their actions have harmed. Not doing so would not only exacerbate the climate crisis, but also compound current injustices and create even more.

In 2009, nations meeting at the COP 15 climate summit in Copenhagen decided that wealthy countries would provide USD $100 billion per year by 2020. Based on what we know so far, the promise has not been met. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that $79.6 billion was mobilized in 2019; an increase of only 2% from 2018. And much of that money is provided in loans, some of which have high interest rates.

So where does this leave us? Nations then decided at the historic COP 21 in 2015 in Paris that the $100 billion goal would continue through 2025, and that a new and higher goal would be set for a period after 2025, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries.

That post-2025 goal has not been set, and to realistically mobilize a higher amount in line with the United Nations Environment Programme’s estimated need of $300 billion or more per year for developing countries by 2030, the new target needs to be set right now.

If we’re talking about all countries, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that on average $2.4 trillion would need to be spent annually between 2016 and 2035 on energy systems alone.

It is clear that those responsible for the climate crisis have not stepped up. And we’re running out of time – fast.

Stepping up and getting real on climate finance means:

1. Wealthy nations establish a concrete plan for delivering the full promised amount of $500 billion by 2025.

2. This plan contains tools for transparency and accountability.

3. Wealthy nations set an ambitious new target for a period post-2025 that can be reached and exceeded.

4. Developing nations who need these funds lead the finance conversations and the level of support they receive takes into account their needs and priorities, based on what those countries share of their experiences.

5. Wealthy countries of the world own up to the damage they have already caused and their responsibility to rectify it by providing the funds and tools for a zero-carbon future.

Anything less would further injustices and create new ones.

It’s time to get real.

What You Can Do

We need immediate action to move quickly toward a zero-fossil fuel emissions economy in a globally just transition to clean energy. Our point of no return is nearly here. We have to get loud, now, and together demand the REAL policy changes that can save us from the worst degrees of warming.

Because our future is on the line – and this is our turning point on the climate crisis.

Join us and make yourself heard during 24 Hours of Reality: Let’s Get Real on October 29 by demanding real action from leaders who can make a meaningful difference for us all.

Learn more and pledge to take action with us!