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G7 agrees to ramp up climate finance for developing nations

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G7 leaders have agreed to raise their climate finance contributions for developing countries in order to match a decade-long commitment to provide $100bn (£70bn) by 2020.

With some major world leaders gathering in Cornwall over the weekend, climate change was high on the agenda, including commitments to support a “green revolution” designed to create jobs and cut emissions in order to meet Paris Agreement climate pledges.

In 2010, developed countries pledged to ramp up climate spending to $100bn annually by 2020, but they fell short of this goal by about $20bn. While it was agreed on principle to make up this shortfall at the meeting, only two G7 countries – Canada and Germany – provided a firm commitment. Canada said it would double its climate finance pledge to C$5.3 billion (£3.1bn) over the next five years and Germany would increase its by €2bn to €6bn euros (£5.2bn) a year by 2025 at the latest.

The seven nations which form the G7 group – the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan - reaffirmed their commitment to “jointly mobilise $100 billion per year from public and private sources, through to 2025”.

“Towards this end, we commit to each increase and improve our overall international public climate finance contributions for this period and call on other developed countries to join and enhance their contributions to this effort.”

Speaking to reporters at the end of the summit, UK prime minister Boris Johnson said: “I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. It’s a lot of money still to raise but don’t forget the UK has put in £11.6bn, we’ve had a big pledge from Canada, we’ve had big pledges around the table. I do think we can get there and I think it’s vital that we do.”

Earlier this year, Johnson’s government cut the foreign aid budget from 0.7 to 0.5 per cent of total national income (a reduction of around £4bn), citing the economic shock of the Covid-19 crisis. Johnson said the promises made at the G7 were a “very good start”.

“Later this year the UK will host the COP26 [UN climate change] Summit, which will galvanise global action on fighting climate change and create a healthy planet for our children and grandchildren,” he said. “G7 countries account for 20 per cent of global carbon emissions, and we were clear this weekend that action has to start with us.”

Some green groups felt that the money allocated by the G7 was not enough. Catherine Pettengell, director at Climate Action Network, an umbrella group for advocacy organisations, said they had failed to rise to the challenge of agreeing on concrete commitments on climate finance: “We had hoped that the leaders of the world’s richest nations would come away from this week having put their money their mouth is,” she said.

Elsewhere, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the G7 leaders had agreed to phase out coal. Although in a written communique, the promise seemed vague: “We have committed to rapidly scale-up technologies and policies that further accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity, consistent with our 2030 NDCs and net zero commitment.”

At the meeting, the G7 also committed to the “safe and sustainable use of space” by going to greater lengths to tackle the problem of space debris.

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