Wealthy countries fell short of the promised $100 billion of climate finance provided to developing countries in 2019 and are expected to miss the target again for 2020, according to the head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
In 2009, the world’s richest nations pledged to provide $100 billion of funding every year by 2020 to help developing countries tackle the climate crisis, but that goal has never been reached.
Only $79.6 billion was made available in 2019, the latest year for which data is available, according to the Paris-based OECD. It is a rise of 2% from 2018, but is still not enough to meet the promised amount.
Of the overall amount in 2019, 25% went to adaptation and 64% went to climate mitigation. Asia has been the main beneficiary of the finance between 2016 and 2019, with 43% of the total, followed by Africa and the Americas.
The contributions include loans and grants, plus private investments which public bodies helped mobilise.
“More needs to be done. We know that donor countries recognise this, with Canada and Germany now taking forward a delivery plan for mobilising the additional finance required to reach the $100 billion a year goal,” said OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann.
A jump of $20 billion would have been needed in 2020 for developed countries to meet the target. But, while verified data for last year will not be available until 2022, the OECD has said it is clear that the level of climate finance provided will fall short of the target.
The shadow over COP 26 negotiations
Rich countries are under pressure to commit more funds before the COP26 climate summit in November, where world leaders will attempt to strike deals to cut emissions faster and avert disastrous levels of global warming.
“The limited progress in overall climate finance volumes between 2018 and 2019 is disappointing, particularly ahead of COP26,” said Cormann.
“It is more urgent than ever that developed countries step up their efforts to deliver finance for climate action in developing countries, particularly to support poor and vulnerable countries to build resilience against the growing impacts of climate change,” he added.
The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 prompted governments around the world to divert funding to shore up their local economies, reinforcing concerns that climate funding contributions that year will have taken a hit.
But, without support from rich nations, developing countries say they cannot make the huge investments needed to cut emissions or bolster their defences against worsening storms, floods and rising seas.
U.N. secretary general Antonio Guterres warned this week that the COP 26 talks risk failing because of mistrust between rich and poor countries – with tensions stoked by the unfulfilled climate finance pledge.
This week the EU committed more climate funds for developing countries, and urged the United States to step up.
“While every country has a responsibility, major economies do have a special duty to the least developed and most vulnerable countries,” said Ursula von der Leyen in her State of the Union address on Wednesday (15 September).
“We expect the United States and our partners to step up too. Closing the climate finance gap together – the US and the EU – would be a strong signal for global climate leadership. It is time to deliver,” she added.
The Biden administration in April committed to double US public climate finance by 2024 compared to average levels during the Obama administration. But still, experts and campaigners are urging the world’s biggest economy to do more.