OPINION: All eyes were on the UK's picturesque county of Cornwall on 11 to 13 June as the leaders of the G7 group of richest democracies met to discuss the way forward on several pressing global issues, with climate change, Covid-19 and dealing with China vying for top billing.
In addition to “ending almost all direct government support” of fossil fuels and the phasing out of gasoline and diesel cars, the G7 nations also pledged to end government support for coal-fired power stations by the end of the year, but left the window open for "clean coal" projects and fell short of setting any targets for ending conventional coal-fired power generation.
In a 25-page communique released at the end of the summit, the seven nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US — also reaffirmed their commitment to "jointly mobilise US$100 billion per year from public and private sources, through to 2025".
This commitment dates back to the COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009, where developed countries committed to contribute US$100 billion per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries to help cope with climate-related challenges.
This international climate finance commitment has already played a role in encouraging greater ambitions among emerging markets and developing economies, according to the United Nations.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development found that public climate finance to developing countries increased by 63%, from US$39.6 billion in 2013 to US$62.2 billion in 2018, with private climate finance also increasing from US$10.1 billion in 2016 to US$14.6 billion in 2018.
Despite the progress, the US$100 billion target by 2020 was not met, according to the UN, in large part due to the coronavirus pandemic.
By extending the timeline out to 2025, the G7 leadership secured four additional years to hit their goal. They also called on all developed countries to pitch in with their own contributions to the public climate finance efforts.
Climate activists called the reaffirmed commitment to the US$100 billion pledge a symbolic gesture, and lacking in detail.
However, after the summit concluded, Canada said it would double its own climate finance pledge to C$5.3 billion (US$4.4 billion) over the next five years, and Germany pledged to increase its commitment by €2 billion to €6 billion (US$7.26 billion) a year by 2025, at the latest.
US President Joe Biden also pitched his "Build Back Better World" at the summit as another way for countries to reach their US$100 billion in climate financing commitment.
The initiative, known as B3W, has been presented as an alternative to China's Belt & Road Initiative, a global infrastructure strategy that has so far made great inroads in 70 developing countries since its introduction in 2013.
The proposed B3W partnership is a global infrastructure initiative between the US and its G7 partners that purports to be values-driven, transparent, and sustainable.
"We’ve seen the Chinese government demonstrate a lack of transparency, poor environmental and labour standards, and a course of approach that’s left many countries worse off," said a senior Biden administration official in a press briefing.
"But until now, we haven’t offered a positive alternative that reflects our values, our standards, and our way of doing business.”
In all, the summit reinforced the impression that global leaders are still tinkering with the problems that humanity is facing.
They need to do much more to stimulate the global shift to green infrastructure and ensure that we leave no country behind in that transition.
(This is an Upstream opinion article.)