Boris Johnson: give poor countries more money to fight climate change

UK prime minister will press case for greater financial backing at G7 in June

The effects of climate change disproportionately harm poorer countries. AFP
The effects of climate change disproportionately harm poorer countries. AFP

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would use the Group of Seven meeting in June to “bend the ear” of fellow leaders to provide more financial help for poor countries to cope with climate change.

Mr Johnson said governments have six months to resolve numerous thorny diplomatic issues, including making good on a $100 billion climate fund that was meant to be given to developing nations each year from 2020.

“If we do the hard miles now, I hope that in November we can meet in person in Glasgow to hammer out the final details of what must be an era-defining outcome for our planet and for future generations,” Mr Johnson told a virtual climate event organised by the German government.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, echoed his sentiments.

"This pandemic has torn enormous holes in the budgets" of industrialised nations, she said.

"We have invested a great deal to counter this pandemic . And yet we must not let up in our international responsibilities. That will be a very big task."

The coming G7 meeting in Cornwall will be the first time the leaders of the world’s biggest economies have gathered in person since before the pandemic.

All G7 countries have set targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2050 at the latest, with Germany this week saying it will bring its goal forward five years to 2045.

If all that emerges from Cop26 is more hot air, then we have absolutely no chance of keeping our planet cool.

Boris Johnson

Mr Johnson said he hoped leaders would commit to “kick-start a green industrial revolution and build economies that can withstand whatever our changing climate throws at us.”

“I also hope to secure a substantial pile of cash with which to help all countries to do that,” he said, and added that the $100 billion target was “long overdue” and rich countries needed to go further still.

Citing Britain’s recent commitment to provide further aid to help poor countries leapfrog the dirty technologies that fuelled both industrialisation and global warming, Mr Johnson said he would “not hesitate to bend the ear of my fellow leaders on the need for them to do the same” by the Glasgow conference, known as Cop26.

“If all that emerges from Cop26 is more hot air, then we have absolutely no chance of keeping our planet cool,” he said. “It must be a summit of agreement, of action, of deeds, not words.”

He glossed over the UK's cuts to its foreign aid budget.

Updated: May 6, 2021 10:52 PM

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