G7 offers ‘peanuts’ to developing world, putting climate ambition in doubt

While Canada and Germany set out new climate finance pledges, rich countries are still falling short of a target they promised to meet in 2020

A man stands in his newly-built home during floods in Bangladesh in June 2020 (Photo: Bangladesh Red Crescent/Flickr)


As G7 leaders left the sunny beaches of Cornwall, UK, following a three-day meeting of gourmet food and aerobatic displays, there was little to celebrate for the world’s most climate vulnerable nations.  

The group of major economies failed to match their commitment to holding global heating below 1.5C  the tougher goal of the Paris Agreement – with the climate finance developing countries need to keep that goal within reach.

In a communiqué, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US reaffirmed a 2009 promise to mobilise $100 billion a year by 2020 to support developing countries address climate change but failed to set out a plan on how to meet the goal. A year after the deadline, developed countries are collectively falling short by an estimated $20 billion.

Only Canada and Germany set out new climate finance pledges, which were insufficient to plug the gap. Experts warn that without that money on the table, November’s Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, UK, will flop.

Pakistan’s climate minister Malik Amin Aslam described the G7 announcement on climate finance as “a huge disappointment”  and “peanuts in the face of an existential catastrophe”.

“At the least, countries responsible for this inescapable crisis need to live up to their stated commitments otherwise the upcoming climate negotiations could well become an exercise in futility,” he told Climate Home News.

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Diann Black-Layne of Antigua and Bermuda, the lead climate negotiator for Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis), told Climate Home the G7 had “largely missed” the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a successful Cop26.

“Trust is at stake. The Paris Agreement was built on trust. And can fall apart just as easily if that trust is broken. It will only get harder from here on end to achieve the kind of political consensus required to send as strong a signal as the G7 could have,” she warned.

Black-Layne said island states have committed to strong 2030 climate target but for those goals to be achieved, “we need at a minimum the commensurate investment promised by developed countries”.

Saleemul Huq, of the Dhaka-based International Centre for Climate Change and Development, said there is “no way to give G7 leaders benefit of doubt on their failure on climate finance,” adding that the communiqué was “simply repeating a lie” as donor countries had repeatedly missed the goal.

“If the 100billion [goal] is not delivered before Cop26 then cancel it!” he said in a tweet 

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For Indian environment minister Prakash Javadekar, it is a matter of making up for historic pollution.

“Climate change is the result of 200 years of unbridled carbon emissions particularly by Europe, America and for the last part yes, China,” he told an event on Monday.

“For the last 11 years, practically nothing has come” of the $100bn goal pledged to developing countries. The G7 “knows they cannot postpone [the issue] further,” he said.

Justin Trudeau announced that Canada will double its climate finance contribution from $2.65bn to $5.63bn over the period 2021-2025. He said finance for adaptation and nature would be stepped up and the share of grants would be increased from 30 to 40%.

While German chancellor Angela Merkel didn’t give a number during a press conference following the summit, government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said in a tweet: “We want to increase our contribution from 4 to 6 billion euros annually by 2025 at the latest.”

At his Earth Day summit in April, Joe Biden said the US would double its climate finance provision by 2024 – but after four years of paying nothing, that lags behind European donors.

Joe Thwaites, of the World Resources Institute, calculated that Germany is committing to provide around $7.2bn a year compared with $5.7bn a year from the US, despite having an economy less than a fifth of the size.

“Real leadership from Merkel, total failure to seize the initiative from Biden,” he said.

With just five months to Cop26, the next opportunities for leaders to thrash out who will close the climate finance gap come at the UN general assembly in September and Italian-hosted G20 in October.

Read more on: Climate finance | Climate finance | Climate politics | COP26